Learn more about our FREE COVID-19 Patient Support Program for chronic illness patients and their loved ones.
Early in the pandemic, the Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) started an online COVID-19 Patient Support Program to provide news, information, advice, and support for people living with chronic illness. The program is free and you can still sign up here.
Members of our program have underlying health issues — such as inflammatory arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and more — that may increase their risk for COVID-19 complications. They are interested in understanding the best ways to stay safe during the pandemic and to be part of a community of people with similar concerns, questions, and fears.
We regularly poll members, who live in the U.S. as well as around the globe, about a variety of topics, including how the pandemic is affecting their lifestyle, mental health, chronic disease management, medication adherence, and more.
We use this information to inform the educational resources we provide and to inform other stakeholders — such as public health experts, policymakers, advocacy groups, health care professionals, and pharmaceutical companies — about chronic illness patients’ needs and concerns.
Here are the results of our poll on if our members have spoken with their health care providers about the COVID-19 vaccine and what they have recommended.
Conducted: February 2-5, 2021
Number of respondents: 679
What We Asked
Since the first COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for emergency use more than two months ago, people who are immunocompromised because of autoimmune conditions or taking immunosuppressant medication have had questions about vaccine safety, effectiveness, and impact on their underlying health issues. While there isn’t necessarily direct data to answer these questions yet, the more we know about the concerns of immunocompromised patients, the better various experts can try to address them in order to increase people’s confidence in getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
To better understand what our community is most concerned about, we asked them to choose which outstanding questions are most important to them among the options provided.
- Which questions about the COVID-19 vaccine are most important to you, given your current medical condition and treatment?
We also asked:
- When do you believe you will get the COVID-19 vaccine?
In addition to these questions, we gave participants the opportunity to ask other questions they have about the COVID-19 vaccine in an open-ended response.
What We Learned
There were 679 total respondents to the poll. From the questions we provided, our members expressed significant interest in almost all of them.
- Am I at higher risk of vaccine side effects because of my condition and/or treatment? (56%)
- How effective will the vaccine be against new COVID-19 strains? (53%)
- Will the vaccine be less effective because of the medication(s) I take? (50%)
- Will the vaccine cause me to have a disease flare? (46%)
- Will I need to stop or skip a dose of my immunosuppressant medication(s)? (33%)
- No questions about the COVID-19 vaccine (5%)
While most of our respondents expect to be vaccinated in the first quarter of the year (by the end of March 2021), others expect to receive the vaccine during the spring, summer, or later.
- 20% of respondents already received the vaccine
- 34% of respondents expect to receive it in February or March
- 35% of respondents expect to be vaccinated during April or later in 2021, with most anticipating being vaccinated before the start of summer.
Only 6 percent of respondents expressed that they do not plan to get the vaccine, while 5 percent anticipate getting vaccinated sometime in 2022.
What This Tells Us
In addition to the above concerns, we received many write-in responses about other questions our members have about the COVID-19 vaccine. They ranged from questions about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines to condition and treatment-specific questions. Here are some:
- “How long will immunity to COVID last once you have had the vaccine?”
- “What type of mask is recommended now? I have heard that 3-ply medical masks are now the expected protection that people wear.”
- “To what extent do we ‘normalize’ a bit after vaccine, i.e., wear masks but get coffee with a friend less than sixfeet apart, etc.?”
- “What trials are going on involving those on biologics and vaccine effectiveness, side effects, and possible long-term consequences?”
- “Will I still be able to spread the virus?”
- “How do I find out when I am eligible to get the vaccine and where can I get it?
It is clear that our members still have numerous outstanding questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. While many of these do not have answers yet — and will take more time and data in order to have answers — this feedback shows the topics that people who are immunocompromised care most about.
The Global Healthy Living Foundation is committed to providing ongoing education about COVID-19 vaccines for the chronic illness and immunocompromised community.
To stay informed about the latest COVID-19 vaccine news for people who are immunocompromised, take immunosuppressant medications, or have autoimmune conditions, follow all of our COVID-19 vaccine coverage here.
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