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By Jill Drachenberg, Editor, Relias Media
The Black and Latino communities have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they have little trust in the safety and efficacy of potential COVID-19 vaccines, according to the results of a recent survey. The survey — one of the largest and most rigorous to date — also revealed the reasons behind COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
Trust in the safety of a potential COVID-19 vaccine is low. Only 14% of Black Americans mostly or completely trust a vaccine will be safe, and 18% believe it will be effective. In the Latino community, 34% trust a vaccine will be safe, while 40% believe it will be effective. When asked about confidence in safety, 78% of Black respondents and 76% of Latinos say it plays an important role in deciding whether to take a vaccine. Three-quarters of Black and Latino respondents said they are less likely to receive a vaccine approved via an Emergency Use Authorization.
The survey included questions about trust of people and institutions:
“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 survey authors noted. “Therefore effective messaging should be open, honest, and comprehensive.”
In the Black community, greater knowledge of the Tuskegee syphilis study is a negative predictor of vaccine uptake. Those who closely follow news about COVID-19 are far more likely to trust scientists, the FDA, and drug companies on the development of a vaccine. People who express a strong sense of belonging within the Black community are less likely to take the vaccine. “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 COVID19 vaccine, and the government and healthcare system overall,” the survey authors noted.
A sense of personal responsibility and social pressure also seem to play a role in intended vaccine uptake. Nine in 10 Black respondents would take a COVID-19 vaccine if most people around them would want them to, while 78% of those who believe they have a social responsibility would take it.
“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,” the authors concluded. “Specifically, efforts should aim to highlight how vaccination can save Black lives and strengthen Black communities.”