Across the US, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has continued at a promising pace since it began in December. As of April 2, 2021 in the United States, 17% of the population is fully vaccinated and 30% have received at least one dose. As part of our ongoing work to track the effects of COVID-19 on the diabetes community, we conducted a survey of n=5194 to understand the experiences and perspectives of people with diabetes and vaccinations. While people with diabetes have been prioritized for vaccine eligibility in many states due to their increased risk of severe complications, there are significant differences in vaccination rates and the intent to be vaccinated.
As of March 16, 2021, 50% of Type 1 and 51% of Type 2 respondents in the dQ&A US Patient Panel have not received any vaccinations for COVID-19. Data representative of the diabetes population in the United States shows that 51% of people with diabetes had not yet received a vaccine. Vaccination rates also varied significantly between different groups. White people with type 2 diabetes are significantly more likely to have received at least 1 dose of the vaccine (50%), compared to Black respondents with type 2 diabetes (38%). Vaccination rates increase significantly with household income, with just 42% of people with diabetes who make less than $50,000 having received the vaccine, compared to those making $50-100k (53%), $100-200k (56%), or more than $200k (65%).
Among those who have not been vaccinated, it is worrying that only about two-thirds (64%) intend to get the vaccine when they are eligible. Those with type 1 are more likely to plan to get the vaccine (72%) than those with type 2 (62%). When asked about their reasons for not getting vaccinated, the majority of people with diabetes expressed concerns about the vaccine’s side effects (64%) and safety (61%).
The majority of all people with diabetes (61%) are concerned about potential serious side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. However, despite concerns about side effects, the vast majority of people with both type 1 (81%) and type 2 (89%) who did get the vaccine reported no change in their blood glucose management afterwards.
A February report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 56% of the general population felt somewhat or very concerned about serious side effects when asked the same question. It’s reasonable to conclude that the diabetes community is at least as concerned about vaccine side effects, compared to the general population. The unknown nature of the vaccine’s long-term effects is also a concern for the majority (66%) of the people with diabetes.
Vaccine misinformation and mistrust may also play a meaningful role in people’s willingness to get the vaccine. Roughly a fourth (24%) of people with diabetes are concerned about contracting COVID-19 from the vaccine. Similarly, roughly half of people with diabetes are concerned that the vaccine is less effective (48%) or safe (51%) than it claims to be.
While the CDC’s prioritization of people with both type 1 and type 2 is encouraging, the hesitancy in the diabetes community to be vaccinated could have significant impact on the well-being and safety of all people with diabetes. Increased messaging on the safety, efficacy, and long-term benefits will be necessary to ensure the diabetes community is adequately protected against COVID-19.
We are very grateful to our dQ&A US Patient Panel for sharing their invaluable insights with us. If you have questions about this research or would like more information on our industry-leading data services, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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About dQ&A – The Diabetes Research Company
dQ&A is a social enterprise that’s committed to making life better for people with diabetes. We harness patient voices to help develop better tools and policies for people with diabetes and improve health outcomes. For over ten years, we have been tracking the experiences and opinions of people with diabetes in the United States, Canada and Europe. We are trusted by patients because of our independence and commitment to them. Our team has decades of experience in quantitative and qualitative research and a deep knowledge of diabetes. Many of our own lives have been touched by diabetes, so we have a personal stake in our work. To learn more and to see research highlights, you can follow us on LinkedIn (dQ&A – The Diabetes Research Company), Facebook (@dQandA) and Twitter (@dQAresearch).