26 Jan COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Declined Faster Among Black Americans
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tasleem J. Padamsee, PhD
Co-Leader C3-REACH — Committed to Communities Collaborative: Research and Engagement to Advance beyond COVID to Health EquityPrincipal Investigator
The Daughter Sister Mother Project: Empowering Women and their Healthcare Providers to Fight Familial Cancer
Lead Qualitative Investigator WOW Project: Washington & Ohio Workers Study
Division of Health Services Management & Policy, College of Public Health
Faculty Affiliate, James Comprehensive Cancer Center
The Ohio State University
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: This is a study about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the United States. Although there has been a lot of discussion about vaccine hesitancy as a barrier to achieving high rates of COVID-19 vaccination, there have been few studies of changes in hesitancy – or how it might vary across groups. As COVID-19 vaccines were becoming available in the US there was a lot of discussion about worrisome rates of vaccine hesitancy, particularly among communities of color.
Our team suspected, however, that these high rates might be short-lived, and that Black Americans in particular might become willing to use COVID-19 vaccines after a short period of time – as they became reassured that they would be safe, effective, and protect communities.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our study followed the same individuals over a 7 month period, asking them to complete a survey of similar questions each month from December 2020 through June 2021. We found that COVID-19 vaccine hesitance declined faster among Black than white Americans. Although Black Americans as a group started out with higher levels of vaccine hesitance than white Americans, by the end of the study vaccine intentions were as high – or higher – among Black Americans than white Americans. We also found that belief that the vaccines are necessary for protection also increased more among Black than White Americans.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: In general, there are two types of reasons people might not use an available vaccine.
First, they may be hesitant or unwilling to do so. Second, they may experience access barriers that keep them from getting vaccinated, even if they are interested in doing so. The key finding of our study is that vaccine hesitance among Black Americans are no higher – and may be lower – than among white Americans. Yet we also know (from data collected by the CDC) that a smaller proportion of Black than white Americans has actually received a COVID-19 vaccine. This suggests that lower vaccination rates among Black Americans are likely due to access barriers, such as lack of nearby vaccine sites or fear of lost wages if one takes off work to get vaccinated gets sick for a day or two after vaccination. It is therefore critical that we continue to talk to individuals about why they are not vaccinated, to figure out which access barriers are affecting specific communities, and to take organized steps to lift those barriers.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Additional research should be conducted about the reasons people remain unvaccinated in specific communities, so that communities, governments, and organizations can design solutions to those barriers. These could include both specific methods to alleviate access barriers, as well as information and messages that can help reduce hesitancy.
The National Science Foundation funded this study. We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Padamsee TJ, Bond RM, Dixon GN, et al. Changes in COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Black and White Individuals in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(1):e2144470. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.44470
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