Background: We examined attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine, potential factors underlying these attitudes, and ways to increase vaccination willingness in autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases (AIIRD) patients. Methods: A multicenter, web-based, observational survey using an online questionnaire was conducted among AIIRD patients aged ≥18 years from May 24, 2021, to June 3, 2021. Participants were 3104 AIIRD patients (2921 unvaccinated and 183 vaccinated). Results: Of the unvaccinated patients, 32.9% were willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, 45.0% were uncertain, and 14.8% were unwilling. When vaccination was recommended by physicians, patients’ willingness increased to 93.8%. Participants’ main concerns were that the vaccine may aggravate AIIRD disease (63.0%) and may cause vaccine-related adverse events (19.9%). Female patients were less likely to be vaccinated. However, patients who had children aged ≤18 years were more willing to be vaccinated. In addition, vaccination willingness was higher in patients with trust in the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. Notably, 183 (5.9%) patients were vaccinated. The major vaccination side effects were injection reaction, myalgia, and fatigue. At a median follow-up of 88 (38, 131) days, patients’ disease activities were stable. Conclusions: The findings show that AIIRD patients were unwilling to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because of fears of potential disease exacerbation and additional adverse events. Sociodemographic characteristics and concerns about COVID-19 disease and vaccines had a significant effect on vaccination willingness.
First published: 15 February 2022