Low rate of vaccination against COVID-19 in visually and hearing impaired patients


According to a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology. The researchers report that the findings are due, in part, to the fact that few state vaccination plans prioritize adults with visual or hearing impairments. This data could lead to future initiatives to promote equitable and accessible vaccinations, according to the research.

In this cross-sectional study, investigators analyzed data from the US Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey from April 2021 to March 2022. They assessed COVID-19[feminine] vaccine initiation, completion and access factors, including demographic and clinical characteristics and social determinants of health.

Visual and hearing impairments were analyzed by patients’ responses to the question “Do you have difficulty seeing/hearing, even when wearing glasses or hearing aids?” Participants were asked to respond using 1 of 3 responses to determine severity: “no to little difficulty”, “serious difficulty, even with glasses/hearing aids”, and “cannot see/hear at all defined as “blindness” and “deafness”, respectively.

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A total of 916,085 adults (mean age, 54.0 ± 15.9 years, 52.0% female, 48.0% male) participated in the survey. Most participants (82.7%) started the vaccine and most of those who started the COVID-19 vaccination completed the series (98.3%).

Researchers have identified visual and auditory disabilities in 3.8% and 2.5% of participants, respectively. COVID-19 vaccination rates were significantly lower for adults who responded “cannot see/hear at all”. (62.9% and 65.2%, respectively) compared to adults with little or no visual or hearing impairment (83.0% and 80.7%, respectively).

Blind adults (mean difference, -6.3%, -11.1% to -1.5%; P =.009) and deafness (mean difference, -5.5% [-9.2% to -1.9%]; P = 0.003) were less likely to initiate the COVID-19 vaccine compared to adults with little or no visual or hearing impairment, respectively. Adults with severe hearing and deafness difficulties had similar results for initiating the COVID-19 vaccine. Adults with 2 or more disabilities (-2.4% [-3.7% to -1.2%]; P

“Few state vaccination plans have prioritized adults with visual or hearing impairment; moreover, vaccination of adults with disabilities has been overlooked in data collection efforts,” the researchers explain. “Further research may be needed to monitor COVID-19 vaccination disparities between adults with visual or hearing impairments and to address disparities (for example, accessibility of vaccine registration sites and public broadcasts related to COVID-19 for people with visual or hearing impairments).

The main limitations were the lack of information on comorbidities/disabilities and the underestimation of people who are hard of hearing or deaf.


Turner K, Nguyen OT, Alishahi Tabriz A, Islam JY, Hong YR. COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Among Us Adults with Visual or Hearing Impairment. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online August 11, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2022.3041

This article originally appeared on Ophthalmology consultant


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