|Healthcare 2023, 11, 245
|Jyotsna Needamangalam Balaji|Sreenidhi Prakash|Ashish Joshi|Krishna Mohan Surapaneni
Background: The ramifications of the existing crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic are sensed in all walks of life. Among the various efforts made to curb the spread of this novel infection, the development of COVID-19 vaccines had a profound role in flattening the pandemic curve. Even though the rapid vaccine drive received a highly welcoming response among people, the reluctance and ignorance of a part of the population towards available safe vaccines stand as impediments to achieving the desired outcome. The LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) communities are the least studied groups in this regard. Objective: The purpose of this study is to extensively review and report on COVID-19 vaccine uptake and refusal among the LGBTQIA+ population and enumerate the factors contributing to vaccine hesitancy. The study extends further to outline a conceptual framework for interventions to enhance COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among the LGBTQIA+ population. Methods: We performed a systematic search using key terms on Google Scholar and PubMed. The obtained results were filtered using the eligibility criteria framed for this study. The initial search provided an extensive result of 4510 articles which were later screened at various levels to arrive at the final inclusive collection of manuscripts adding to 17. The studies were analyzed by the authors individually, and the data were categorized using variables. The results are interpreted using charts and graphs. The whole manuscript has been structured in accordance with the PRISMA extension for scoping reviews. Result: The comprehensive search yielded 17 eligible articles for this review. Most of the studies were conducted in the United States (n = 17), and predominantly cross-sectional studies have been conducted. The major comparative factor was the HIV status of the LGBTQIA+ population. HIV-affected patients were more willing to take up COVID-19 vaccination. However, social stigma, discrimination, lack of access and non-prioritization in vaccine drives were found to be the major factors contributing to vaccine hesitancy among this population. Conclusion: The invention of the COVID-19 vaccination revolutionized the healthcare systems burdened with COVID-19. Although this is a breakthrough scientific contribution, many factors are associated with the rate of vaccine acceptance, especially among sexual and gender minorities. The reviewed studies have revealed numerous factors that influence vaccine uptake and refusal with the commonest being concerns on discrimination, social stigma, inequitable access to healthcare, vaccine safety, efficacy, potency, side effects and lack of trust in medical workers. These impediments in vaccine coverage should be meticulously addressed to ensure optimum LGBTQIA+ physical and mental health as well as for providing non-discriminative, equitable and quality healthcare service regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of individuals.