Survey Highlights Disparities In COVID-19 Vaccine Access

Published: Wednesday, June 16, 2021 - 2:51pm
Updated: Thursday, June 17, 2021 - 9:15am
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Nearly half of all Arizonans have now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But disparities remain when it comes to who’s getting the shot. And a new survey sheds light on how race and ethnicity factor into vaccine uptake.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Poll from the Commonwealth Fund and the African American Research Collaborative asked more than 12,000 Americans about their vaccination status and their attitudes toward the vaccine. The results highlight nationwide inequities in vaccine distribution among different demographic groups.

“Racism is a public health crisis,” said researcher Dr. Laurie Zephyrin. “Now as we face these new variants with millions more Americans needing to get vaccinated, it’s really important to understand that if we’re going to get to the other side of this pandemic, we’ll need to adjust our strategies.”

Researcher Ray Block said the survey shows a correlation between past adverse experiences with the health care system and hesitancy toward the vaccine, especially among Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans.

“The general trend here is that discrimination experiences are impactful," Block said. 

Block said issues of education and access also contribute to disparities.

“One of many things that we should be doing is helping out with this gap when it comes to health literacy and information about where to go and what to do so a person can get access to [the vaccine],” Block said. 

In Arizona the gap between White and Latino vaccination rates is among the widest in the nation, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only 22% of Arizona Latinos have had a shot, compared with 43% of white Arizonans.

Survey respondents of all races and ethnicities said they would be most comfortable receiving the vaccine at their doctor's office. Researchers suggest states work with local doctors' offices to build trust at the community level. 

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