Greater divergence in attitudes, growing reticence among minorities
Even as manufacturers reported extraordinary efficacy results for the first COVID-19 vaccine candidates, our nationwide survey found significant hesitancy to getting vaccinated among respondents. Our initial survey also showed significant variation in attitudes among different demographic, racial, and ethnic groups.
The results merited continued tracking, so we conducted another survey from January 8–11. The survey ran roughly a month after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the first of the vaccines, and the results of the Presidential elections were certified in Congress. It included 2,200 adults and comprised a representative sample of the U.S. population as described by the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings reveal some hopeful signs, as well as some concerning trends.
The most recent survey found that while the number of people who want to get vaccinated as soon as possible rose to 38 percent of all respondents, so did the percentage of those who definitely do not intend to get vaccinated – up 7 percentage points to 24 percent.
Hesitancy not only persisted among racial minorities, the differences grew greater with more than a third – 35 percent – of Black/African American respondents stating they do not plan to get vaccinated, a 9 percentage point increase.
This is concerning because the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority communities including Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino. There are many reasons for this inequity. People of color are more likely to be poor, work in sectors of the economy where they are exposed to the virus, live in crowded spaces, and have chronic health conditions.
There are historic underpinnings to this mistrust of the health care system. However, making sure that the vaccines are widely distributed among minority populations is important to ensure equity and achieve herd immunity. These results once again emphasize the need for targeted, community based awareness and education campaigns to help engender confidence among minority communities.
Through our own channels and through other broader coalitions, we are working to mobilize awareness and education efforts, incorporating lessons learned from our community health programs, such as Project Health, and our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic to date.
Given the documented racial disparities, we are also focused on local education efforts driven and delivered by trusted community leaders, advocates, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, and local, community based media.