Black Americans Are Reportedly More Skeptical Than Other Ethnic Groups About Vaccine Safety

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
Font Size:

A significant number of black Americans are skeptical about the coronavirus vaccine, a feeling that some attribute to past injustices carried out by the medical system, ABC reported.

Scientists and physicians are stepping up their efforts to reach black and other minority communities in an effort to build trust and inform about vaccine information. Because participation in the vaccine program is essential to helping stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has disproportionately impacted minority communities, there is a lot of work still to be done to encourage these groups to get the vaccine, according to ABC.

Anthony Williams, a cancer biologist at the University of Chicago, told ABC that before he participated in vaccine trials, relatives asked him why he would trust the medical system given past indignities brought against black people by medical professionals. 

Compared with whites and Hispanics, blacks are less likely to get a first-generation vaccine, with only 26% reporting that they would do so, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll, while 55% of whites and 54% of Hispanics said it was likely they would get vaccinated. Blacks were more concerned than other surveyed ethnic groups about the safety of a vaccine, and were 19 points less likely than Latino adults to be confident that a vaccine was tested for safety and effectiveness within their community. Trust in the government and perceived social pressure also influenced these views. 

While states have not been given a firm date of the vaccine’s rollout, they are preparing to receive them as early as Dec. 11, the day after a meeting focused on authorization of the vaccine

More than 40 million doses of the vaccine are anticipated to be ready by the end of 2020, and groups like frontline health care workers, and residents of long-term care facilities will be among the first to receive the vaccine. To calm skepticism that may exist among Americans, former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton have announced that they would take the vaccine produced by Operation Warp Speed on camera to prove its safety. (RELATED: Obama, Bush And Clinton Say They’ll Take Coronavirus Vaccine ‘On Camera’ To Prove Its Safety)

But many minorities who work in long-term care facilities may be eligible to receive the vaccine before most Americans who don’t work in high-risk environments or aren’t vulnerable to the virus. While doctors and nurses who treat patients directly will be among the first to receive the vaccine, house-cleaning staff and those who work in food delivery at hospitals are also included in a Centers for Disease Control advisory committee recommendation for the rollout. 

“We understand that underprivileged minority populations, lower-paid individuals are in that group,” he added. “And so, because of that, that expands the equitability of the recommendation,” Dr. José Romero, the chair of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) told ABC.

Until the rollout, word of mouth may be a powerful strategy that could build trust among minority communities skeptical about the vaccine. Racial concordance between physician and patient, for example, is one way trust can be improved. Pre-existing bonds developed in gathering places like churches or barber shops could also bolster minority representation.

Pfizer’s vaccine candidate was the first of three that showed to be at least 90% effective in clinical trials, preceding vaccines from Moderna and AstraZeneca. 

Moderna announced Monday that it would ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval after its large-scale human trial concluded and showed the company’s vaccine to have an overall efficacy of 94.1%, according to NBC News. The vaccine was found to be 100% effective in preventing severe cases of coronavirus, according to Moderna.