More than half of unvaccinated Americans say they would prefer to get a Covid-19 shot from their local doctor’s office as opposed to from a pharmacy or large vaccination site, according to a survey released Wednesday.
The nationwide poll, by the African American Research Collaborative and the Commonwealth Fund, highlights how vaccine hesitancy is still a critical issue, especially among communities of color. The poll had the largest sample of Black, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native American people of any vaccine study to date.
“Local doctors and nurses of color are very trusted messengers. And so our best path forward is by working with those local doctors and nurses who look like us, who are from our community, encouraging us to come into their doctor’s office and take notes,” Matt Barreto, a professor of Chicano/a studies at UCLA, said at a briefing announcing the poll, which surveyed more than 12,000 Americans.
More than 40% of Latino, Black, and Native American people are still hesitant to get vaccinated, according to the survey. More than 70% of those communities say they face barriers when it comes to accessing the vaccines, such as transportation and difficulty getting off work.
Nearly one-third of unvaccinated Black Americans and one-fifth of unvaccinated Native Americans who expressed some sense of vaccine hesitancy say the discrimination their communities have faced within the health-care system makes it hard to trust that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, the study found.
“There’s a direct connection between the discrimination people of color face in our health-care system and their level of trust in it.” said Laurie Zephyrin, vice president for Advancing Health System Equity at the Commonwealth Fund. “This survey underscores the need to address discrimination in the health-care system and bring equity into the center of the recovery process.”
Partnering with trusted messengers and making space to hear and respond to concerns that have “not always been treated with dignity by scientific, medical, and political institutions” is key to getting more people of color vaccinated, according to Marcella Nunez-Smith, the associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine.
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“We know that there is a pervasive and unjust difference in how communities of color experience the medical system. The bias creates drastic disparities in health outcomes, leads to an earned distrust of healthcare and health-care practices,” Nunez-Smith said.
In the Latino community, addressing concerns about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness has been a huge issue, according to Arturo Vargas, CEO of the nonprofit NALEO Educational Fund. “it is our responsibility to take an active approach to mediate the crisis,” he said.
Community leaders and local organizations need to conduct aggressive, targeted outreach to young Latinos, Vargas said. The priority is to “saturate television, radio, and social media with blunt and accurate information,” he said.
The groups behind the survey said they plan to share their findings in a memo to the White House’s health equity task force. They also said they plan to work directly with some states.