Transparency Key to Addressing Vaccine Wariness Among Minorities

While the clinical trial industry has performed incredibly well in terms of developing potential vaccines against COVID-19, the next big challenge is to allay concerns many have about taking any vaccine—especially in the African American and Latinx communities, according to a new study by the COVID Collaborative.

“Efforts to promote vaccine uptake in the Black community must directly confront and address the deep historical traumas that have created high levels of distrust in the COVID-19 vaccine, and the government and healthcare system overall,” says the report, “Coronavirus Vaccine Hesitancy in Black and Latinx Communities.”

It calls for greater transparency across the healthcare delivery spectrum. “Transparency seems key to trust building—when Black Americans have greater information about how the vaccine works and how it was developed, they have greater willingness to take the vaccine,” the report notes.

The negative correlation between Black identity and vaccine intention suggests that education efforts should work to acknowledge the harm that historical vaccination efforts have caused (notably, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study), while making pointed connections between core values within the Black community and the benefits of vaccination. Specifically, efforts should aim to highlight how vaccination can save Black lives and strengthen Black communities.

Latinx communities have experienced a disproportionately high burden of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, even when compared to Black communities, making effective vaccine uptake even more essential, the report says. On the positive side, “resistance to vaccination is markedly lower in Latinx communities when compared to Black communities, and levels of trust in institutions and institutional messengers is markedly higher—suggesting that more traditional public health efforts may gain more traction in Latinx communities.”

Because of the positive correlation between Latinx identity and vaccine intention, and because Latinx elected officials in one’s community are more likely to be trusted than White elected officials, efforts to promote uptake should leverage voices from within the Latinx community. They should reinforce the notion that vaccination is a responsibility that helps the Latinx community at large, the report says.

The COVID Collaborative, Langer Research, UnidosUS, and the NAACP conducted the poll on attitudes and impacts of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance in the Black and Latinx communities. The report features responses from 1,050 Black adults and 258 Latinx adults collected in September.

Edited by Michael Causey