A study which quizzed thousands of frontline health care workers in the United Arab Emirates found the vast majority were in favor of being vaccinated against COVID-19, but one in ten are still hesitant to get inoculated.
Researchers behind the survey, ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance among Health Care Workers in the United Arab Emirates’, published in ScienceDirect, questioned 2,832 frontline workers, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.
Most health care workers (89.2 percent) said they would take a COVID-19 vaccine, while 88 percent had also recommended family members take the vaccine.
Across the different types of COVID-19 vaccines, 2192 (80.3 percent) of the participants preferred the inactivated vaccine type (such as Sinovac, and Sinopharm), 708 (31.1 percent) preferred the protein-based vaccine type (such as Novavax), 570 (25.2 percent) preferred the virus vector vaccine type (such as Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V), and 538 (23.9 percent) preferred the genetic vaccine type (such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna).
When asked about the main reason for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine, of those who said they would not accept a vaccine (307 people - 10.8 percent), 144 (48.5 percent) reported fear of potential side effects, 110 (37 percent) reported lack of reliable data regarding the vaccine, 33 (11.1 percent) reported lack of trust for those creating and distributing the vaccine, and 10 (3.4 percent) responded that they do not believe the vaccine works.
Of those surveyed, 61 percent were women, while 69.9 percent were aged between 25 and 44 and half were nurses. Less than one in ten (7.9 percent) of the frontline health workers were from the GCC, while the majority were either from the South Asian countries of India or Pakistan (36.5 percent) or Southeast Asia (26.9 percent) countries including Malaysia or the Philippines.
The study was conducted between November 2020 and February 2021 but have just been made public.
Authors note that vaccine hesitancy could have declined since the study took place as more information about vaccines have since been made available.
“The high acceptance rate of the COVID-19 vaccine among HCWs in the UAE is reassuring. Approximately nine out of 10 respondents were willing to be vaccinated,” the authors said.
“In comparison, studies conducted early in the COVID-19 pandemic, during the vaccine development phases, showed a much lower acceptance rate.”
“For example, in the US, 64 percent of HCWs were willing to be vaccinated within 30 days, 10 percent were willing to be vaccinated after six months, and 26 percent reported being unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19 even after six months of the initial rollout.
“Nevertheless, such rates of hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine can change over time, and therefore it is essential to be studied.”
“In the UAE, incentives and policies were introduced to promote vaccination among HCWs and the general population with intensive awareness campaigns, which could contribute heavily to our finding of a high COVID-19 vaccine rate.”
The UAE made the COVID-19 vaccine available to frontline HCWs and essential government officials from September 2020.
The UAE leads the list of countries in terms of vaccine distribution rate, with 79.3 percent of population being fully vaccinated, with the number of coronavirus tests conducted being 78,651,247. The percentage of those received the first dose is 90.5.