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COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy, Mistrust High Among Black Americans

WEDNESDAY, March 10, 2021 -- The majority of Black Americans are not sure they will get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the results of a new survey conducted by the RAND Corporation.

Laura M. Bogart, from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues surveyed 207 self-identified Black participants (mean age, 50.8 years; 71 percent female) in the RAND American Life Panel between Nov. 17 and Dec. 2, 2020. The survey assessed levels of and reasons for vaccine hesitancy and medical mistrust.

According to the results of the survey, more than one-third of survey participants overall agreed or strongly agreed that they would not get a COVID-19 vaccine. Participants in the health care field -- both as health care practitioners and those in technical and support occupations -- showed higher vaccine hesitancy (48 percent versus 32 percent among those not in health care). Agreement with the statement, "When it comes to COVID-19, Black people cannot trust health care providers" was associated with a lower likelihood of receiving the vaccine. Nearly six in 10 respondents (59 percent) did not believe the government could be trusted to tell the truth about COVID-19. More than half of respondents who said they would not get vaccinated were not sure about the effectiveness of the vaccine compared with one-third of respondents willing to get the vaccine.

"Public health messages and communication strategies to address vaccine hesitancy should be tailored through authentic community engagement," Bogart said in a statement. "Messaging about COVID-19 vaccines should first acknowledge systemic racism as a justifiable reason for mistrust before providing transparent information about the vaccine, including specific information about efficacy and safety."

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