Why some Latinos remain wary of the COVID vaccine

A pharmacist gives a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot during an event hosted by the Chicago Department of Public Health at the Southwest Senior Center on September 09, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Some people in medically underserved Latino communities avoided getting the COVID vaccine due to fears of side effects, mistrust of health officials and vaccine manufacturers, and discrimination from health care workers, according to a new study.

The research focuses on communities near the US-Mexico border.

Lead researcher Luz Garcini, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Rice University, points out a disparity reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though COVID-19 vaccination rates are higher among Latinos (65% have had at least one dose) than whites (54%), US Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to be infected and 2.3 times more likely to be hospitalized when compared to whites.

“Given this information, we really wanted to get to the bottom of what is keeping individuals in these communities from taking the vaccine,” she says.

Garcini and colleagues used online surveys and focus groups to gather information from 64 community health workers and promoters. They found that about 44% said patients believed vaccines can have harmful side effects, and approximately 28% said patients feared illness or death as a result of taking the vaccine.

Patients also cited the following reasons for not taking the vaccine:

  • Discrimination or stigmatization from health care professionals administering the vaccine.
  • Fear of exploitation or manipulation by the government or health authorities.
  • Fear of having personal information mishandled and/or undocumented status disclosed.
  • Limited information about vaccines or logistical hurdles to access.

Targeted, culturally sensitive efforts are needed to reduce the risk of infection in these communities, Garcini says.

The study appears in Frontiers in Public Health .

Source: Rice University