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What influences vaccine hesitancy among Black and Hispanic populations?

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  • Previous studies have consistently shown greater COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Black adults than in their white counterparts, but data on differences in vaccine hesitancy among white and Hispanic adults have been inconsistent.
  • A new study based on a national survey conducted during the early COVID-19 vaccine rollout shows that Hispanic participants did not show greater vaccine hesitancy than white adults.
  • Despite having more anti-vaccine beliefs than white adults, Hispanic adults were more likely to have a friend or family member who had or died from COVID-19, which dampened the effects of these anti-vaccine beliefs in promoting vaccine hesitancy.
  • Consistent with previous research, the study shows that Black individuals had more worries about the vaccines than their white counterparts, leading to greater vaccine hesitancy.

A recent study published in Social Science & Medicine shows that Black adults, but not Hispanic adults, had greater vaccine hesitancy than their white counterparts during the early vaccine rollout.

The study also examined factors influencing the presence or lack of disparities among racial and ethnic groups. These results could help devise targeted public health campaigns to reduce vaccine hesitancy among specific racial and ethnic groups.

Study co-author, Dr. Michelle Frisco, a sociologist at Pennsylvania State University, told us:

“Our study was the first to show that the reason for Black Americans’ vaccine hesitancy is anti-vaccine beliefs that are tied to the long legacy of systemic racism in the U.S. health care system. Our other important finding was that U.S.-born Hispanic individuals were actually less vaccine hesitant than U.S.-born whites, largely due to personal experiences with the virus — [such as] knowing individuals who were sick or died from the virus — and contrary to our expectations, Hispanic immigrants were not more vaccine hesitant than U.S.-born white adults.”

Vaccine hesitancy among Hispanic migrants

Several studies have shown that the rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection and deaths due to COVID-19 have been disproportionately higherTrusted Source in Black and Hispanic adults than in the white population.

Moreover, studies conducted before COVID-19 vaccines became available and during the onset of the vaccine rollout have consistently shown higher levels of vaccine hesitancy among Black individuals than their white counterparts.

However, studies comparing levels of vaccine hesitancy among the white and Hispanic populations have produced mixed results. A potential reason for these inconsistent results could be that these studies have considered U.S.-born and foreign-born Hispanic individuals as a single group.

Factors specific to foreign-born Hispanic individuals could result in a greater vaccine hesitancy in Hispanic migrants than in their U.S.-born counterparts.

The greater cultural assimilation of U.S.-born Hispanic adults compared with those who were foreign-born might contribute to a lower degree of vaccine hesitancy in the former.

Hispanic migrants could also be reluctant to get vaccinated due to the possibility of requiring to provide government-issued identification and the fear of deportation.

In the present study, the researchers disaggregated data on U.S-born and foreign-born Hispanic adults to better understand the differences in vaccine hesitancy among racial and ethnic groups.

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