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Vox Sanguinis ; 117(SUPPL 1):119-120, 2022.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1916344


Background: The speed of development of COVID-19 vaccines, and the need to balance their effectiveness versus possible complications, raised doubts over vaccine acceptance in the first period of the national vaccination campaign aiming at herd immunity against SARSCoV- 2. In the field of transfusion medicine, timely vaccination of the blood donor population represents a powerful measure in the general strategy to sustain blood collection and optimize the blood supply. Aims: To explore perceptions and attitudes of blood donors towards SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, in comparison to the general population. Methods: Donors in 20 blood collection services throughout Greece in May-October 2021 answered voluntarily and confidentially a structured questionnaire, covering: donor demographics;date and type of blood donation;frequency of donation;history of COVID-19;SARSCoV- 2 vaccination including type and doses;reasons for getting vaccinated or not;satisfaction with the vaccination procedure;side effects;feelings after vaccination;certainty about return to normality;and recommending vaccination to others. Hesitancy and beliefs leading to not getting vaccinated, worries over future side effects, and not recommending vaccination to others were also investigated. Results: Completed questionnaires were received from 3361 blood donors (61% response rate) aged 18-65 years during blood sessions at mobile sites and within hospitals. Respondents were mainly males (72%). A very high proportion (92%) of responders had completed high school of higher education and the majority resided in large cities. Almost half were regular donors. A small proportion (5.4%) had undergone a mild COVID19 infection and 17.3% mentioned COVID-19 in a relative. 52% had already been vaccinated. The proportion vaccinated increased steadily throughout the study. Vaccine acceptance was highest in males 45-54 years old and in females 18-24 and 50-59 years old. All four EMA approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca and Johnson) were used. Mild complications were reported by 21% of vaccinated donors after the first dose and 19% after the second. Thirty-five donors reported fever and local pain at the vaccination site after both doses. The vast majority (79%) of vaccinated donors were very satisfied with the vaccination procedure and only 10 complained. After vaccination, 20% of donors felt safe and protected against COVID-19 and 55% intended to continue all recommended personal protective measures in their families and felt satisfaction for doing the right thing. Among unvaccinated respondents, 48% were awaiting their appointment, 19% were undecided, 16% were afraid of complications, a few said that they were waiting for more information about the beneficial effect of the vaccines, or that COVID-19 is not a severe disease, and 10% did not specify their reasons. In the general population of Greece surveyed in May 2021 in the Flash Eurobarometer study, COVID-19 vaccination acceptance was 59%. The proportion of those with negative perception and attitude towards vaccination was 12%. Key reasons for getting vaccinated or not were similar to those found in blood donors. Summary/Conclusions: The benefits of vaccination and the need to continue all personal protection measures were highly recognized by blood donors, whether already vaccinated or awaiting vaccination. The perceptions and attitudes towards vaccination against COVID-19, especially of regular donors, are compatible with their high social, altruistic and humanitarian behaviour.