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Mattocks KM, Kroll-Desrosiers A, Moore Simas TA, Bastian LA, Marteeny V, Walker L, Sheahan K, Elwy AR. Examining Pregnant Veterans' Acceptance and Beliefs Regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine. Journal of general internal medicine. 2022 Sep 1; 37(Suppl 3):671-678.
BACKGROUND: Pregnant persons have received mixed messages regarding whether or not to receive COVID-19 vaccines as limited data are available regarding vaccine safety for pregnant and lactating persons and breastfeeding infants. OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were to examine pregnant Veteran''s acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines, along with perceptions and beliefs regarding vaccine safety and vaccine conspiracy beliefs. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of pregnant Veterans enrolled in VA care who were taking part in an ongoing cohort study at 15 VA medical centers between January and May 2021. MAIN MEASURES: Pregnant Veterans were asked whether they had been offered the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, and whether they chose to accept or refuse it. Additional questions focused on perceptions of COVID-19 vaccine safety and endorsements of vaccine knowledge and conspiracy beliefs. Logistic regression was utilized to examine predictors of acceptance of a vaccine during pregnancy. KEY RESULTS: Overall, 72 pregnant Veterans were offered a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy; over two-thirds (69%) opted not to receive a vaccine. Reasons for not receiving a vaccine included potential effects on the baby (64%), side effects for oneself (30%), and immunity from a past COVID-19 infection (12%). Those who received a vaccine had significantly greater vaccine knowledge and less belief in vaccine conspiracy theories. Greater knowledge of vaccines in general (aOR: 1.78; 95% CI: 1.2-2.6) and lower beliefs in vaccine conspiracies (aOR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.6-0.9) were the strongest predictors of acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides important insights regarding pregnant Veterans'' decisions to accept the COVID-19 vaccine, and reasons why they may choose not to accept the vaccine. Given the high endorsement of vaccine conspiracy beliefs, trusted healthcare providers should have ongoing, open discussions about vaccine conspiracy beliefs and provide additional information to dispel these beliefs.