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Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: 1,084 U.S. adults were surveyed between Aug. 21-24, 2020 with a ±3.3% margin of error; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Black Americans are less likely than white Americans to say they plan to get a flu vaccine this year, and significantly less likely to say they'll take a first-generation coronavirus vaccine, according to numbers from the latest edition of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Black Americans have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19, which means they also stand to benefit from a successful vaccine. But a legacy of medical mistreatment, systematic racism in health care and targeted efforts by anti-vaxxers means that a wide trust gap needs to be closed first.

Details: 49% of Black Americans say they are somewhat or very likely to get a flu shot this year, compared 65% of white Americans and 60% of Hispanics.

  • That gap is significantly larger when it comes to willingness to take a first-generation COVID-19 vaccine. Just 28% of Black Americans say they would be willing to do so, compared to 51% of white Americans and 56% of Hispanics.
  • Altogether, 62% of those surveyed say they are somewhat or very likely to get a flu shot, while 48% say they'll take a first-generation COVID-19 vaccine.

How it works: Experts say that Black Americans' vaccine reluctance is due largely to racism, both past and present.

  • During the 1930s, hundreds of Black men were recruited into what became known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, where doctors permitted the disease to progress without treatment.
  • A 2016 study indicated that Black patients were routinely under-treated for pain compared to whites, in part because many white doctors believed in inaccurate differences between races, including the erroneous idea that Black patients have less sensitive nerve endings.
  • Just 5% of active physicians identify as Black, compared to more than 13% of the total U.S. population.
  • "History absolutely plays a role as to why communities of color are hesitant to get the vaccine," says Patrice Harris, the former head of the American Medical Association. "We need to earn their trust."

Context: Anti-vaxxers have also begun specifically targeting Black communities and Black Lives Matter events in an effort to spread misinformation about vaccine safety.

  • "That predominantly white, privileged group of people has finally figured out that there is another group of people with real, legitimate grievances against public health and health care," says Joe Smyser, the CEO of the Public Goods Project. "And they can exploit that for their own cause."

The bottom line: Black Americans desperately need an effective coronavirus vaccine, but if the medical establishment is going to close the gap in trust, it needs to engage to directly engage with the Black community before a vaccine is made available.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted August 21-24 by Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,084 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Go deeper

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.

Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds — Moderna says vaccine shows strong immune response in kids
  2. Health: COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought — 96% of Tyson Foods employees vaccinated ahead of mandate deadline — U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers
  3. Politics: Louisiana lifts mask mandate except for some schools — Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandate — Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated Dec 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Highlights from Biden and Harris' first joint interview since the election

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.