Prevalence and Assessment of Factors Associated with COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in an Ethnic Minority Oncology Patient Population

Matthew Lee, Emily Miao, Bruce Rapkin, Balazs Halmos, Viswanathan Shankar, Sanjay Goel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Complicating the COVID-19 pandemic are the healthcare disparities experienced by ethnic minorities, especially those with comorbidities including cancer. The introduction of COVID-19 vaccines has been instrumental in blunting the morbidity and mortality from the pandemic; however, vaccine hesitancy, particularly among ethnic minorities, has been a major concern. Thus, we sought to evaluate the knowledge and perspectives of COVID-19 and vaccines among our ethnic minority cancer patient population. Methods: Following an IRB approved protocol, questionnaires were completed by patients in a predominantly ethnic minority population at a single institution between 1 February and 30 June 2021. Included were any adult cancer patients with either a solid or hematologic malignancy. Results: Among the 84 patients that were offered the questionnaires, 52 patients responded, with a median age of 63.5 years. Overall, 36% were non-Hispanic Blacks and 30% were Hispanics; 65% were receiving active treatment for their cancer. Seventy-nine percent believed COVID-19 to be dangerous or harmful to them, 61% were concerned about the side effects, yet 65% considered COVID-19 vaccines as safe. Among the seven patients that refused the vaccine, (71%, n = 5) cited side effects and/or (57%, n = 4) believed that the vaccine was not needed. Overall, there was a significantly higher chance of being vaccinated if patients were receiving active cancer treatment, believed COVID-19 was harmful, or that the vaccine was safe, and knew COVID-19 was a virus. Conclusions: This exploratory study demonstrates that most ethnic minority cancer patients are receptive to vaccines, with a majority being vaccinated. However, we also discovered various reasons why this group of patients may not want be vaccinated, including concerns about side effects and perception that COVID-19 is not harmful. These findings can help us further understand the complex nature of vaccine hesitancy in ethnic minority cancer patients, and aid in developing future vaccine awareness strategies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1711
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • COVID vaccine
  • ethnic minorities
  • vaccine hesitancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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