How did vaccine hesitancy vary for Black, White, U.S.-born and Foreign-born Hispanic adults during early Covid-19 rollout efforts?

Frisco, Michelle L.
Van Hook, Jennifer
Thomas, Kevin J.A.
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University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center

Recent national studies have found that Black adults were consistently more vaccine hesitant than White adults, while the evidence is mixed about Hispanic-White disparities in vaccine hesitancy. Few nationally representative studies have sought to explain why racial/ethnic disparities in vaccine hesitancy exist. In this research brief, PRC faculty scholar Kevin Thomas, along with former PRC trainees and Penn State professors Michelle Frisco and Jennifer Van Hook, explore race/ethnic and nativity disparities in Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy with nationally representative data from adults ages 18–65 collected early in vaccine rollout efforts. They found that Black and foreign-born Hispanic adults had the highest vaccine hesitancy. Anti-vaccine beliefs accounted for about 70% of the Black-White difference in vaccine hesitancy while differences between foreign-born Hispanic and White adults were mainly due to foreign-born Hispanic adults’ greater skepticism about whether the government was truthful about vaccine risks as well as their lower levels of education compared to White adults. The authors argue that public education to combat anti-vaccine beliefs is a critical public health approach for alleviating Black-White inequity in vaccine hesitancy and localized efforts to reduce vaccine hesitancy among foreign-born Hispanic people are warranted in communities where it is most prevalent.