Male adult users of smartphone-based online gay dating apps in the European region have high acceptance of monkeypox (MPX) vaccination. At the same time, there are specific groups with a high degree of vaccine hesitancy to whom campaigns should be tailored. Here, public health providers together with community-based organisations play an important role.
This is according to a Eurosurveillance report published on 20 October 2022, which used data from an online survey conducted on smartphone-based online gay dating apps in 52 countries in the European region. From 30 July to 12 August, the survey asked adults aged 18 and older about their acceptance of vaccinations. Some 33,000 users of the apps Grindr and Hornet participated in the survey. Users of the two apps were men who have sex with men (MSM).
The study provides guidance on how to implement an equitable MPX vaccination strategy. Results can be used to design vaccination strategies and health promotion efforts tailored to groups who may have higher vaccine hesitancy.
In general, there is a high level of vaccination acceptance among participants. Eighty-two percent of respondents said they would accept vaccination with MPX vaccines, nine percent were hesitant, and eight percent would decline vaccination. Factors cited for a high acceptance of MPX vaccination were:
- a high degree of self-perception of being at risk to get infected of MPX,
- conviction that MPX is a serious disease and
- concerns about being treated differently because of MPX.
Evolution of monkeypox in Europe
These are key associated factors in determining the decision to be vaccinated, as has been described in other studies.
Also, being linked to routine healthcare was a positive predictor of willingness to be vaccinated. Acceptance of vaccination was also higher in certain cases among older respondents.
On the other hand, the results suggest geographic differences in MPX vaccination acceptance, with lower rates reported by people living in the south-eastern, central and eastern European subregions.
Vaccination campaigns and related services should therefore be tailored to the needs of those groups with higher vaccine hesitancy, such as young MSM, people living with HIV who are not receiving antiretroviral therapy, or those who perceive a lower risk of infection and who have fewer links to community-based organisations and the healthcare system.
MPX vaccination strategies should be part of a combined prevention approach for strengthening prevention services and increasing equitable MPX vaccination access, engaging community, healthcare providers, civil society and public health professionals.
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