COVID-19 vaccination uptake and determinants of booster vaccination among persons who inject drugs in New York City

Mehrdad Khezri, Courtney McKnight, Chenziheng Allen Weng, Sarah Kimball, Don Des Jarlais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Persons who inject drugs (PWID) may be unengaged with healthcare services and face an elevated risk of severe morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19 due to chronic diseases and structural inequities. However, data on COVID-19 vaccine uptake, particularly booster vaccination, among PWID are limited. We examined COVID-19 vaccine uptake and factors associated with booster vaccination among PWID in New York City (NYC). Methods We recruited PWID using respondent-driven sampling from October 2021 to November 2023 in a survey that included HIV and SARS-CoV-2 antibodies testing. The questionnaire included demographics, COVID-19 vaccination and attitudes, and drug use behaviors. Results Of 436 PWID, 80% received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Among individuals who received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, 95% were fully vaccinated. After excluding participants recruited before booster authorization for general adults started in NYC, and those who had never received an initial vaccination, 41% reported having received a COVID-19 booster vaccine dose. COVID-19 booster vaccination was significantly associated with having a high school diploma or GED (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.93; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09, 3.48), ever received the hepatitis A/B vaccine (aOR 2.23; 95% CI 1.27, 3.96), main drug use other than heroin/speedball, fentanyl and stimulants (aOR 14.4; 95% CI 2.32, 280), number of non-fatal overdoses (aOR 0.35; 95% CI 0.16, 0.70), and mean vaccination attitude score (aOR 0.94; 95% CI 0.89, 0.98). Conclusions We found a suboptimal level of COVID-19 booster vaccination among PWID, which was consistent with the rates observed in the general population in NYC and the U.S. Community-based interventions are needed to improve COVID-19 booster vaccination access and uptake among PWID. Attitudes towards vaccination were significant predictors of both primary and booster vaccination uptake. Outreach efforts focusing on improving attitudes towards vaccination and educational programs are essential for reducing hesitancy and increasing booster vaccination uptake among PWID.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0303394
JournalPloS one
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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