Mar 1, 2021
Recent polls show that Black Americans are less willing than Americans of other races or ethnicities to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The authors surveyed Black Americans to better understand the drivers of such hesitancy. They identify public health messaging and communication strategies that may be successful in addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and increasing vaccination acceptance in Black communities.
Recent polls show that Black Americans are less willing than Americans of other races or ethnicities to be vaccinated for COVID-19. These lower vaccination rates among Black Americans would further widen COVID-19 inequities in diagnosis, hospitalization, and mortality. A main driver of hesitancy among Black Americans is thought to be general mistrust of health care systems and providers. Such mistrust has arisen in Black communities as an understandable, rational, and self-protective reaction to history, knowledge, and continuous and repeated discrimination, racism, and harmful experiences toward Black Americans by the health care system, health care providers, and the U.S. government. Such repeated, systemic discrimination experiences, as well as the perceived failure of health care organizations to take authentic measures to build trust and become more trustworthy, have led to avoidance of health care among Black Americans, which may translate further into unwillingness to accept COVID-19 vaccination.
To support efforts to reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Black communities, RAND Corporation researchers conducted a survey of Black Americans in November–December 2020 to better understand the drivers of such reluctance. The researchers also conducted follow-up interviews with survey respondents who expressed hesitancy. Based on the results of the survey and interviews, the authors engaged with community stakeholders to identify an initial set of public health messaging and communication strategies likely to be successful in addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and increasing vaccination in Black communities.