Historic mistrust of government and health care industry contribute to African Americans’ reluctance to COVID-19 vaccine

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While African Americans have disproportionately higher COVID-19 infection and death rates than white individuals, they also have disproportionately lower COVID-19 vaccination rates, which is partially fueled by reluctance to vaccination.

In an effort to address health disparities that negatively impact African Americans, MU’s Wilson Majee conducted a study to better understand the factors that contribute to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among African Americans. . He found that compounding factors, including historical distrust of government and personal experiences of racism within the health care system, contribute to African Americans’ reluctance to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Majee interviewed church leaders, lifestyle coaches and participants of Live Well by Faith, a faith-based community wellness program run by the Boone County Health Department that promotes healthy living and treats chronic health conditions in predominantly African-American communities in Boone County, Missouri. Historical distrust of government and personal experiences of racism within the healthcare system were common themes among members of the African-American community for not wanting to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The Tuskegee Syphilis Study has been repeatedly cited as a popular example of unethical medical treatment of African Americans by the federal government, and once that trust is lost, it can be difficult to regain it even over time,” said Majee, associate professor. at MU’s School of Health Professions. “One respondent mentioned the federal government’s common reminder to never forget the tragic events of September 11, 2001, but African Americans are expected to forget unethical research practices and the history of injustice and racism from their own federal government.”

Majee also told the story of another respondent who reflected on his own personal experience in the healthcare industry after testing positive for COVID-19.

“This elderly man went to hospital but was sent home, and after his health declined he returned to hospital but was sent home again,” Majee said. “When he returned a third time, he was told they had made a mistake and was given a hospital bed so he could be watched, and he couldn’t help but ask if his experience would have been different if he hadn’t been black?”

Other factors contributing to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy included the speed with which the vaccine was developed, the lack of black doctors providing the vaccines, and misinformation spread on social media.

Majee added social determinants of health, including that African Americans tend to be poorer and have less access to education, health care and healthy food, as well as structural determinants of health, notably that African Americans tend to be affected by racism in the housing, education, employment, and health care sectors, all of which combine to contribute to the deterioration of health outcomes for African Americans. .

“African Americans are more likely to have low-income, in-person jobs in crowded places that cannot accommodate working from home or social distancing, so they are more likely to be exposed and infected. by COVID-19,” Majee said. . “Combine that with African Americans already poorer and less likely to be able to afford quality health insurance, historical mistrust of government, and personal negative experiences with the health care industry, and you quickly see how all of these factors are beginning to work together to negatively impact the health outcomes of African Americans.”

Community wellness programs like Live Well by Faith play a key role in helping address these inequities, Majee said. Receiving accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine from trusted community members, such as African American church leaders and lifestyle coaches, has been instrumental in promoting positive outcomes for health.

“African American members of the Black Church congregation believed the information they received because it came from people they trusted and who looked like them,” Majee said. “The key to the Live Well by Faith program is that it’s rooted in the community, and we’ve seen it’s been helpful in getting more African Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Majee’s primary research goal is to find ways in which those in power, including local, state, and federal governments, church leaders, researchers, and adult role models, can distribute resources that engage people. vulnerable in their communities.

“My passion is to empower people in resource-constrained communities by listening to their ideas and allocating resources to develop interventions that meet the needs of people in difficulty,” Majee said. “There is a great need to improve the health of minorities, because the disparities are huge and will continue to grow if we do not act now.”

“The Past is So Present: Understanding COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in African American Adults Using Qualitative Data” was published in Journal of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health.

Black Americans report high levels of vaccine hesitancy

More information:
Wilson Majee et al, The Past Is So Present: Understanding COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among African American Adults Using Qualitative Data, Journal of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health (2022). DOI: 10.1007/s40615-022-01236-3

Provided by the University of Missouri

Quote: Historic Distrust of Government, Health Care Industry Contributes to African Americans’ Reluctance to COVID-19 Vaccine (2022, July 23) Retrieved July 23, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com /news/2022-07-historical-mistrust-health-contributions-industry.html

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