Pediatric Hem/Onc Doctors, Nurses Sought Safety Data on COVID-19 Vaccines

By Leah Lawrence - Last Updated: November 7, 2022

Despite the potential unknown long-term effects of vaccination, most pediatric hematology/oncology physicians and nurse practitioners support use of the COVID-19 vaccine once data are available for immunocompromised children or those with chronic disease.

Researchers recently published this conclusion, the result of a qualitative study, as a Short Report in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics.

According to the study, COVID-19 vaccination in children and adolescent cancer survivors, or those who have sickle cell disease, is very important.

“Based on previous literature, a strong recommendation for vaccination from a trusted provider can make a difference in those who are vaccine hesitant,” the researchers wrote. “Studies have found that there is some hesitancy among health care workers in general with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

This qualitative study examined views of pediatric hematology/oncology providers on the COVID-19 vaccine prior to approval in patients aged younger than 16 years. The researchers interviewed 20 providers in Indiana; 19 were vaccinated at the time. Participants were asked about their thoughts on COVID-19 vaccine development, data on the vaccine, provider concerns, vaccine hesitancy, and more.

Most providers were supportive of the COVID-19 vaccine for healthy adults.

The majority of participants (15 of 20) expressed a desire to see more data on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations in pediatric hematology/oncology populations. Specifically, they wanted more data on pediatric populations, pediatric immunocompromised patients, or patients with cancer. Most providers said they would be satisfied with published data or data-based recommendations from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the vaccine was found to be safe and effective for their specific patient population, 16 of 20 interviewees said they would either recommend the COVID-19 vaccine to patients or would plan to recommend it.

The researchers acknowledged that data on the vaccine have continued to evolve since the study took place.

“In May 2021, there were publications regarding the safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of the Pfizer (BNT162b2) 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents aged ≥12–15 years, followed by a recommendation to vaccinate down to 12 years of age,” the researchers wrote. However, these trials excluded children with chronic disease or those who were immunocompromised.

“This continues to be a rapidly evolving area as new data emerges,” the researchers wrote. “This article serves to offer insight into the thought processes of subspecialty pediatric hematology/oncology providers for the novel COVID-19 vaccines and can inform provider-focused interventions to strengthen vaccine recommendations among pediatric subspecialty providers.”



Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Physician and Nurse Practitioner Attitudes Towards the COVID-19 Vaccines: A Qualitative Study