Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

COVID-19 and Breast Cancer: Focus on Building Vaccine Acceptance

By: Hope Craig, MSPH
Posted: Thursday, September 2, 2021

Over a 2-week period in March 2021, researchers at the Breast Cancer Center, Hospital Zambrano Hellion TecSalud, Nuevo León, Mexico conducted a cross-sectional survey to explore the attitudes and factors associated with vaccine hesitancy among patients with breast cancer. Patients who visited the social media channels of a nongovernmental organization focusing on breast cancer care were invited to participate. Their findings, which highlight the importance of strategies to build vaccine literacy, were presented in a research letter in JAMA Oncology.

Led by Cynthia Villarreal-Garza, MD, DSc, of the Institute’s Breast Cancer Center, the survey received responses from more than 600 women with breast cancer in Mexico. Post hoc, participants were categorized into the following groups: vaccine-acceptant (ie, willing to be vaccinated immediately; n = 357, 66%) or vaccine-hesitant (n = 183, 34%). Respondents who were previously vaccinated were excluded (n =79, 13%). Participants ranged in age from 23 to 85, with a median age of 49.

The most common reasons vaccine-acceptant patients were willing to be vaccinated were to prevent COVID-19 (84%), take care of relatives (64%), an autoperceived social responsibility (64%), a fear of getting seriously ill (61%), and/or a desire for “getting back to normal” (52%). Univariate analyses showed that factors with the highest associations with vaccine hesitancy were mistrust in the health-care system (odds ratio [OR] = 8.79; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.26–18.15) and the misconception that COVID-19 vaccination is contraindicated in patients with breast cancer (OR = 8.41; 95% CI = 3.36–21.05).

“Strategies that focus on building vaccine literacy and confidence in the health care system are urgently needed to enhance vaccine acceptance. To achieve this, clear and credible communication that addresses patient misinformation and specific concerns must be encouraged…. The active participation of oncologists is essential to educate cancer patients on the benefits of COVID-19 immunization and to endorse vaccination,” the authors commented.

Disclosure: Full authors’ disclosures are available at

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