COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy – Reasons Behind the “I Don’t Trust it!” Mentality

Vaccine hesitancy is not new, especially in minority communities. In many cases, uncertainty arises from historical events that have happened in relation to experimental trials, vaccination and lack of transparency by the government. This lends itself to valid hesitation associated with receiving COVID vaccines. 

Reasons For Hesitancy 

It is important to understand that different groups may have different reasons for hesitancy.  Institutional racism and historical inequities in healthcare play a major role in vaccine hesitancy among African Americans and other people of color:
  • Incidents of the medical establishment endangering the health or betraying the trust of Black patients and research participants have complicated the relationship between the medical establishment and these communities.
  • As explained by Dr. Sherita Golden, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer and Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, “a historic lack of diversity among health care practitioners and substandard services and care afforded to patients living with poverty can create enduring negative experiences with medical care (2021).”
Exposure to conspiracy theories and misinformation through media outlets regarding COVID-19 have led to distrust in government intentions across groups. Healthcare Ready poll results from May 2021 showed that distrust in the vaccine itself, while highest among White Americans, is also high in minority communities and is a significant barrier to getting vaccinated. Respondents who identified as Hispanic or a race other than Black or White were also slightly more likely to say distrust in a healthcare provider was a barrier to getting vaccinated.
Stats on COVID-19 vaccine mistrust from the Healthcare Ready 2021 Domestic Preparedness Poll:
Hesitancy did not just begin with the implementation of the COVID vaccine. Prior manipulation and pain by government agencies and medical institutions, with a lack of acknowledgment or recourse for wrongdoings, have contributed to hesitancy in minority communities. To truly address vaccine hesitancy, we must consider the reasons minority communities, who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, may not trust the vaccine. Acknowledging the different roots of distrust of the vaccine could change the course of vaccine distribution by increasing vaccination amongst those initially hesitant and reduce the negative impacts of COVID on minority communities.



Sign up for updates and alerts