Timothy Callaghan, an awarded assistant professor at Texas A&M University's School of Public Health, lead a survey of approximately 5,000 Americans that suggest 31.1% of the U.S. public does not intend to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.
Published in Social Science and Medicine, in the study, survey respondents answered a series of questions; these ranged from asking about their perspective on vaccines, to their behavior towards COVID-19 itself, including, why or why not they intended to get themselves vaccinated.
Women, were found to be 71% less likely to plan on getting vaccinated, researchers found, followed by Black Americans at 41%.
Survey results also showed that politics play a role: each one-point increase in conservatism, increased the odds of vaccine refusal by 18%.
Those who said they intended to vote for President Donald Trump in the presidential election – the survey was conducted in mid-2020 – were 29% more likely to refuse vaccination.
The study revealed two top reasons for vaccine refusal: concerns about safety and effectiveness.
However, reasons for vaccine reluctance varied across sub-populations.
For instance, the finding that surprised Callaghan the most was that Black individuals, who are being infected and dying of COVID-19 at higher rates, are still less likely to vaccinate.
“This points to the need, for the medical community, and policymakers, to find ways to both build trust in the vaccine, in the African American community, and to ensure that it is delivered afford-ably,” Callaghan said.
Surveyed Black Americans said their hesitancy stems from similar concerns like safety and effectiveness, plus, a lack of financial resources or health insurance.
Authors of the study shared that anti-vaccine advocacy groups, “have made a concerted effort", to target Black Americans; they are also very concerned of anti-vaccine groups successfully framing COVID-19 vaccination, in terms of past medical abuses, against minority groups to decrease the likelihood that racial minorities will pursue COVID-19 vaccinations.
Nonetheless, with COVID-19 vaccine-hesitant groups beginning to be identified, Callaghan hopes to explore what kind of medical literacy efforts can promote vaccines in those populations.
Additionally, Callaghan noted on how it is important to still explore all the similarities and differences between populations that are generally vaccine hesitant, and populations that are hesitant specifically toward the COVID-19 vaccine.