Oct 14, 2020 - Health

Black Americans are more skeptical of a coronavirus vaccine

Data: KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Strikingly large shares of Black Americans say they would be reluctant to get a coronavirus vaccine — even if it was free and had been deemed safe by scientists, according to a new nationwide survey from KFF and The Undefeated.

Why it matters: The findings reflect well-founded distrust of government and health care institutions, and they underscore the need for credible outreach efforts when a vaccine is distributed. Otherwise, distribution could fail to effectively reach the Black community, which has been disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

By the numbers: Just 17% of Black American adults say they definitely will get a Covid-19 vaccine if it were determined to be safe by scientists and it was free; 49% said they would not get it.

  • Large shares are skeptical even among people at the highest risk. Just 20% of Black people with a serious health condition say they definitely would get a safe, free vaccine, as did 24% of those who have a health care worker in the home and 25% of Black seniors.
  • Just 9% of Black adults feel very confident that a vaccine will have been properly tested or will be distributed fairly.

Between the lines: Vaccine hesitancy in the Black community is rooted in experiences with discrimination and systemic racism.

  • The share of Black people who say racial discrimination in health care is commonplace has increased from 56% in 1999 to 70% now.

What’s next: Vaccine distribution will likely begin with health care workers, providing real-world evidence of safety.

  • Political leaders and public health officials who have credibility in communities of color could also help reduce vaccine hesitancy.

The bottom line: A vaccine distribution effort that is not coupled with a credible outreach effort in communities of color is likely to fall far short of reaching many of the people who are most at risk.

Go deeper: Axios-Ipsos poll: The racial gap on coronavirus vaccine

Go deeper