Public Health

What Doctors Think about The Safety of the New COVID-19 Vaccines [A Study]

Many countries have been carrying out mass COVID-19 vaccinations for their residents. This has triggered many questions about the availability, effectiveness, and safety profile of these vaccines.

We asked 272 licensed doctors in 78 countries about their thoughts and experience with the new COVID-19 vaccines.

Specifically, we asked about their confidence in the vaccines’ safety, accessibility, and the ones they recommend.

Summary of Our Key Findings

  1. 85.2% of doctors are confident about the safety profile of the authorized vaccines with an average rating of 3.7 out of a possible 5.
  2. 54.3% of the doctors surveyed have been vaccinated.
  3. Pfizer/BioNTech was the most popular vaccine received by doctors (61%), followed by AstraZeneca/Oxford (26.5%)
    Moderna (9.6%) and Johnson & Johnson (2.9%).
  4. 52.1% of doctors who had been vaccinated had no side-effects.
  5. The most common side-effects were fever, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue.
  6. The most common reasons why doctors haven’t been vaccinated are inaccessibility to the vaccines (45.5%), discomfort about vaccine safety profile (33.3%), and disinterest (5%).
  7. When available, those who haven’t had access to the vaccines yet will prefer Pfizer/BioNTech (59%), AstraZeneca/Oxford (17.2%),
    Moderna (14.8%) and Johnson & Johnson (9%).
  8. 79.2% of doctors surveyed had not tested positive for COVID-19 before.

Most Doctors Are Confident about the Safety of The COVID-19 Vaccines

We asked doctors to rate their confidence in the safety of these new vaccines on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the lowest confidence level and 5 being the highest confidence level.

  • 34.8% rated 5/5
  • 27.4% rated 4/5
  • 23.0% rated 3/5
  • 4.1% rated 2/5
  • 10.7% rated 1/5

This shows that 85.2% of doctors surveyed gave the vaccines a rating of 3/5 and above. The average rating was 3.7.

About 50% of Doctors Have Been Vaccinated

Many societies are choosing to vaccinate healthcare workers, top government officials, and the elderly first before rolling it out to the general public.

This showed in our data as 54.3% of doctors asked have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It also shows that more work needs to be done to get more frontline workers vaccinated against the disease.

Pfizer/BioNTech was the most common vaccine received by doctors

This was the first vaccine to be authorized for emergency use in the US and other countries, so it’s not surprising that it was the most administered to doctors worldwide.

61% of doctors vaccinated received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, while 26.5% received AstraZeneca/Oxford, 9.6% received Moderna, and 2.9% received the Johnson & Johnson one.

More than half of the Doctors Vaccinated Had No Side-Effects

52.1% of doctors surveyed had no side-effects after receiving the jab. Amongst those who had side effects, the most common symptoms were fever, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Below is a list of reported side-effects in descending order of frequency:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Arm pain
  • Body aches
  • Malaise
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizzyness
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Rashes

Global Vaccine Accessibility Is Still Low

We asked doctors who haven’t been vaccinated the reasons(s) why. The most common answer (45.5%) was that the vaccines were not yet available to them. 33.3 % of them were not yet comfortable with the safety profile of the vaccines, while only 5% said they weren’t yet interested.

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is still preferred by doctors not yet vaccinated

We asked doctors who hadn’t been vaccinated yet what vaccines they would opt for if given a choice. These were the results:

  • Pfizer/BioNTech- 59%
  • AstraZeneca/Oxford- 17.2%
  • Moderna- 14.8 %
  • Johnson & Johnson- 9%

Most Doctors Have Not Tested Positive for COVID-19

We asked the doctors if they had tested positive for COVID-19 before. 79.2% of them had not while 20.8% answered yes.

Our Data

We used Typeform to make a smart survey that used logic to qualify respondents as they answered. We used this logic to show different questions to different respondents based on their answers.

For instance, if you answer ‘no’ to the question that asks if you’re a licensed doctor, you won’t be able to see any more questions. If a doctor answered yes to having side effects from the vaccines, the next question displayed will be asking about those side effects. If no was the answer, the next question about testing positive for COVID-19.

To get doctors to participate in our survey, we partnered with medical social media pages that share complex medical information with a large doctor audience.

You can also access the raw survey data here.

By Dr. Omiete Charles-Davies, MBBS

Dr. Charles-Davies is a medical doctor who graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in Medicine and Surgery. He has vast experience in health entrepreneurship and is passionate about improving healthcare globally.

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