More than half of Black adults in the US remain hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine and experts say new data underscores the need to prioritize equitable access and redouble efforts to build trust within communities.
Respondents said they either don’t plan to get the shot or they are uncertain if they should or will get the shot, according to a new survey released Thursday by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
The survey found that only 49% of Black adults plan to get the vaccine with 19% of those people saying say they will get it right away and 31% preferring to wait.
Conversely, 31% of Black adults say they will not get the vaccine and 20% say they are unsure.
The findings come as data from many states reveal that White people are getting vaccinated at an average of twice the rate of Black people.
More than 20 states now report Covid-19 vaccination data by race or ethnicity, and inequities in Covid-19 vaccination are present in all of them, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.
Black people have received a smaller share of vaccinations than their share of Covid-19 cases in all 23 reporting that data, and the same is true for Hispanic people in all 21 states reporting that data, the analysis found.
In most of those states, Black and Hispanic people also received a smaller share of Covid-19 vaccinations than their share of Covid-19 deaths, with Vermont and Missouri as the exceptions. In Vermont, the share of vaccinations among Black people was equal to the share of Covid-19 deaths among Black people, and in Vermont and Missouri, the share of vaccinations among Hispanic people were higher than the share of Covid-19 deaths among Hispanic people.
The Kaiser Family Foundation used data published on state websites as of Monday for the analysis, along with case and death data from The COVID Tracking Project.
A CNN analysis of state vaccination data last week found that vaccine coverage is twice as high among White people on average than it is among Black and Hispanic people.
Older Black adults and men more willing to get vaccine
“The survey findings underscore the need to build trust in vaccines and the health care system among Black adults, including among younger age groups and women, who often make healthcare decisions for their families,” NFID president Dr. Patricia N. Whitley-Williams, said in a statement.
“Medical professionals and the health care system at large must engage with Black communities, address their concerns, and convey the safety and importance of these vaccines in protecting against both Covid-19 and flu.”
The survey, which was conducted in December 2020, also revealed that older Black adults and men are more willing to get the Covid-19 vaccine. For example, 68% of of [delete] adults age 60 and older said they planned to get the vaccine while only 38% of Black adults age 18-44 planned to get it. Many of the younger respondents expressed distrust in the healthcare system saying it treats people unfairly based on race and ethnic background, according to the survey findings.
Additionally, 59% of Black women over the age of 60 said they were willing to get the vaccine compared to 78% of Black men in that age group.
The survey found that nearly half of Black adults are also reluctant to get the flu vaccine because of potential side effects and a belief that they will get the flu from the shot. Thirty-five percent say they will not get the flu vaccine and 11% were unsure.
Renewed calls to prioritize equitable access
While vaccine hesitancy remains an issue, health advocates and civil rights leaders say the federal government has failed to prioritize equitable access in communities of color. They say the government should be partnering with trusted leaders in the Black community to help build vaccine confidence and reach their neighborhoods.
The NFID survey reflects these concerns with only 16% of Black adults saying they believe the vaccines will be distributed equally.
Black and Latino Americans are dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of White people and being hospitalized at a rate four times higher, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Previous studies have shown that many Black Americans won’t get the vaccine because of the nation’s history of racism in medical research. They point to the Tuskegee experiments from 1932-1972 that recruited 600 Black men — 399 who had syphilis and 201 who did not — and tracked the disease’s progression by not treating the men as they died or suffered severe health issues.