Amy Mudano, MPH: Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in Patients with Rheumatic Disease – Rheumatology Network

Rheumatology Network interviewed ­­­­­­­­­­ Amy Mudano, MPH to discuss her recent American College of Rheumatology Convergence 2022 presentation “COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Reasons for Hesitancy in a Large Rheumatology Practice Network.” Mudano is Senior Epidemiologist at Bendcare and a research partner with CreakyJoints.

The Bendcare organization, comprised of over 100 rheumatologists, employs a modifiable and customizable survey to glean information on the 250,000 patients registered within the network.

Mudano and her team used this survey to garner more information on COVID-19 vaccination, including if patients had gotten the vaccine, the number of doses and/or booster shots they had received, and if they had not been vaccinated, what had prevented them from doing so.

The survey, which is ongoing, provided some surprising results.

“The patients who had yet to get any vaccine cited mostly worries about safety issues and worries about long term safety effects,” Mudano explained. “They didn’t feel that they’d had enough time or that there had been enough time to see if the vaccine was going to be safe or not. Those were the primary reasons for those patients once they had received the vaccine.

“If they had any hesitancy about receiving additional shots, the main reason they gave for not wanting to do that was because their doctor had not told them to do it yet. We thought that was a very interesting result and something that we could point out to our physicians and say, ‘Here’s an action that you can take. You can tell your patients if you think they need a booster shot, they’re just waiting for you to tell them that they should go ahead and get it.’”

Mudano stresses the importance of educating patients in increase vaccine uptake and reduce hesitancy.

“These are people with autoimmune conditions who are taking immunomodulatory drugs that affect their immune system,” Mudano emphasized. “It’s been shown that they may have worse outcomes if they do get COVID. So, it’s important that they know that they really need this vaccine.”