COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: What Your Patients Want You to Know

Shilpa Venkatachalam, PhD, and Shubhasree Banerjee, MD, evaluate the factors associated with COVID-19 vaccine uptake and hesitancy among patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases, and the importance of tailored messaging and communication between patient and provider.

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It has been reported that approximately 65% of the US population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, studies have shown that patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic disease, who may be more likely to develop severe disease with SARS-CoV-2 infection, exhibit vaccine hesitancy for various reasons.

Shilpa Venkatachalam, PhD, MPH, director of Patient-Centered Research Operations and Ethical Oversight at Global Healthy Living Foundation, and Shubhasree Banerjee, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Penn Medicine, discuss the factors associated with vaccine hesitancy and skepticism and the steps that clinicians can take to improve COVID-19 vaccine uptake rates.

Read the full transcript of the episode here.

Shilpa Venkatachalam, PhD, MPH, is the director of Patient-Centered Research Operations and Ethical Oversight at Global Healthy Living Foundation and the co-principal investigator of CreakyJoints® ArthritisPower. She manages and co-leads several of the organization’s research projects and initiatives.

More recently, Dr Venkatachalam led a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Dissemination Engagement Award on chronic pain and a collaborative project on understanding the concerns, behaviors, and experiences of people living with autoimmune and rheumatic conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also led a PCORI Stakeholder Convening Engagement Award titled, Vaccine Uptake Research in Autoimmune Disease: Multistakeholder Planning.

Dr Venkatachalam was the recipient of the prestigious Paul Ambrose Scholars Program fellowship, awarded by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. She was among 25 chosen by The Young Persons Chronic Disease Network in collaboration with American Cancer Society and the Harvard Global Equity Center for The Global Cancer Advocacy Training. She has worked internationally in India, the UK, Trinidad and Tobago, and Chad and been an invited panelist for video conference presentations on Global Health Topics by the Ambassador’s Club at the United Nations (UN). She has also served on the Science and Policy Advisory Council for the National Pain Advocacy Center (NPAC).

Dr Venkatachalam lives with inflammatory arthritis and also served as a patient representative and voting member in the development of the 2021 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) guidelines for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and on the patient panel for the 2022 ACR guideline for vaccinations in patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

Shubhasree Banerjee, MD is an assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Pennsylvania. She works at the Penn Vasculitis Center.

Dr Banerjee received her medical degree from Medical College in Kolkata, India, and has a Masters in biochemistry from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, India.  She completed residency in internal medicine from Overlook Medical Center in New Jersey and a fellowship in rheumatology from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Dr Banerjee has publications in large vessel vasculitis, relapsing polychondritis and Behçet disease.