The Urgent Need to Build Vaccine Confidence among US Black Adults

Only 49 percent of US Black adults plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and 54 percent have received or plan to get an influenza (flu) vaccine during the 2020-2021 flu season. These findings were among the results of a new survey of US Black adults conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) to better understand beliefs about COVID-19 and flu, as well as attitudes and practices around vaccination.

NFID President Patricia N. Whitley-Williams, MD leads by example and gets vaccinatedIn the midst of the pandemic, we need to continue to focus on increasing vaccination rates among those who are at higher risk of severe complications, including Black adults … Medical professionals and the healthcare system at large must engage with Black communities, address their concerns, and convey the safety and importance of vaccines in protecting against both COVID-19 and flu.

NFID President Patricia N. Whitley-Williams, MD

NFID conducted the survey with the goal of better understanding and addressing health disparities.

Among those surveyed who do not plan or are unsure about whether they will get vaccinated against COVID-19, top concerns were:

  • Development and approval of safe and effective vaccines in such a short timeframe (66 percent)
  • COVID-19 vaccines would be harmful (45 percent)
  • Getting COVID-19 from the vaccine (39 percent)

Among those surveyed who do not plan or are unsure about whether they will get vaccinated against flu, top concerns were:

  • Side effects from flu vaccines
  • Getting flu from the vaccine

We need to address common misconceptions and make it clear that there are currently safe, effective vaccines available in the US to help prevent COVID-19 and flu, and you simply cannot get COVID-19 or flu from the vaccines.

NFID President Patricia N. Whitley-Williams, MD

A surprising finding was that younger Black adults are less willing to be vaccinated against both COVID-19 and flu, and Black women are less willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This gender gap is particularly concerning as women often make healthcare decisions for their household.

Black communities are disproportionately affected by both COVID-19 and flu, and many Black adults also have chronic health conditions that put them at greater risk of serious complications from both COVID-19 and flu.

The survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago in December 2020 and was completed by 1,340 Black adults age 18 years and older representing the 50 states and DC.

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To learn more about flu and COVID-19, visit www.nfid.org/flu and www.nfid.org/coronavirus.

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