COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Among At-Risk and Under-Vaccinated Groups Within HIV and Rheumatic diseases (CONFIDENCE)
People living with human immunodeficiency virus (PL-HIV) as well as people living with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (PL-SARDs) are more likely to have severe COVID‑19 and to die of it compared to individuals in the general population. Vaccination against COVID‑19 is key to reducing these risks. However, ~20% of the eligible Canadian population is not yet vaccinated. Moreover, recent data suggest that vaccine rates and acceptance are lower in migrants, women, and people with physical disabilities. These ‘especially vulnerable subgroups’ are frequent among PL-HIV and PL-SARDs. Previous literature reported that vulnerable subgroups of PL-HIV and PL-SARDs share common reasons that lead to reduced COVID‑19 vaccine uptake. We propose to work along with members of these subgroups to uncover those reasons and to empower trusted members of these communities so they can communicate with their peers in ways that motivate behavior change (i.e., vaccine acceptance). In order to understand the reasons that could enhance COVID‑19 vaccine confidence in the aforementioned vulnerable groups, we will conduct virtual group meetings (i.e., focus groups) and individual phone interviews with those not willing to join the group discussions. The information gathered from these activities will then be used to design a training program for community members to promote vaccine confidence through motivational interviewing and storytelling techniques. The feasibility of training community members in motivational interviewing and an initial feedback on the impact of the intervention promoting behavioral change in their communities will be evaluated. Our team, composed of community members, health care providers and researchers, has the required expertise to accomplish the work proposed in a timely fashion, to disseminate the study results and to advocate for implementation measures to address other aspects to promote vaccine acceptance identified during the course of the study.