‘Vaccine confidence has gone up significantly’ in communities of color: Doctor

Confidence in COVID-19 vaccines has risen within communities of color, says Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A May 2021 household survey from the U.S. Census Bureau found that 11.4% of all adults 18 or over were hesitant about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, whereas the numbers were 11.6% for Black Americans. In the beginning of March, 26% of Black Americans reportedly were vaccine-hesitant, compared to 18.6% for all races.

“National surveys have shown that while vaccine confidence was a concern in communities of color, where they were provided trusted resources from trusted messengers, vaccine confidence has gone up significantly,” Davis told Yahoo Finance Live.

The increased receptiveness to coronavirus vaccines comes after a concerted effort by government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and others to raise awareness about the vaccines. BMJ reported earlier this week that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention granted the American Health Care Association $2.5 million in funds in order to encourage confidence and acceptance in the COVID-19 vaccines throughout 2021.

Vaccination rates have been uneven across states in 2021, with some states already having reached the 70% benchmark of “at least one dose” President Biden set for the country. Vermont leads the nation with 70.7% of the state’s population having at least one dose, while states like Mississippi and Louisiana remain under 36%.

More remote areas of the country especially have struggled with vaccination. “We are still seeing resistance unfortunately in our rural populations.”

“We have to be thoughtful about why that might be,” Davis said, adding that messaging must be inclusive and community-oriented.

Reasons for vaccine reluctance

The most common reasons for vaccine hesitancy according to the Census Bureau were concerns about possible side effects, general lack of trust towards the COVID-19 vaccine, government mistrust, beliefs that the vaccine is unnecessary, and plans to wait and observe the vaccine’s safety.

“We saw what we expected,” Davis said. “In the beginning, we would see folks that were excited, the folks that believed in this vaccine sort of ran to it. And then there was a leveling off of sorts, because we hit that ‘in-the-middle’ population… or just the very resistant group. Our approach now is very different and has to be very considerate of those populations.”

Ihsaan Fanusie is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @IFanusie.

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