Why are Latinx and other POC Vaccine Hesitant?

While many people across the United States eagerly await their vaccine, 28 percent of the Latinx population and 43 percent of African Americans remain skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccination, as compared to 10 percent of all Americans. Skepticism stems from safety concerns, false information, and a long standing history of medical mistreatment of minorities.

In the past, there have been many instances where minorities, either uninformed or forced, have been used for medical experiments. Some of the most prominent include the Tuskegee experiment in the 1930s, where African American men with syphilis were not given treatment in order for data to be collected on the progress of the disease. There was another experiment by the U.S. government in the 1940s where Guatemalan prisoners were exposed to STDs. Another example of unethical medical experimentation was in the 1950s, where newly developed birth control pills were given to Puerto Rican women without their knowledge. Similar mistreatment of minorities has been seen even more recently in the Irwin County Detention Center where detained immigrants with covid symptoms were denied medical care, hysterectomies were performed on immigrant women, and medical records were forged.

The network [of whatsapp groups]  has been used in our community to warn each other of things, like ‘la migra,'” or immigration officers. These are networks that … are established. They are well rehearsed and well set up to spread disinformation”

— Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez -- Columbia University Medical Center

Along with these historical reasons, some members of minority groups are also concerned about the efficacy and potential side effects of the vaccine. Despite the large amount of research done on the vaccine, the accelerated schedule has many minority groups concerned.  Deicin Garcia, one of the many Latinos that has spoken about her concerns states that she is  “afraid [she’ll] have a negative reaction to the vaccine.” Around 70 percent of people against vaccination have expressed concerns about the vaccine having negative long term health effects, side effects, or just being ineffective.

61 percent of the Latinos unwilling to be vaccinated voice distrust of the Trump administration’s rollout of the vaccine.  This has been bolstered by rumors and conspiracy theories about the vaccine including suspicions of gender reassignments, geolocator chip injections, and deportation. Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician from the Columbia University Medical Center says that “The network [of whatsapp groups]  has been used in our community to warn each other of things, like ‘la migra,'” or immigration officers. These are networks that … are established. They are well rehearsed and well set up to spread disinformation”

Many minorities fear the government due to the dark history surrounding human experiments and maltreatment of minorities. Widespread misinformation and the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies have done nothing to lessen this tension. Conspiracy theories about the vaccine being a tracking device to deport immigrants have made minorities even more unwilling than before to get vaccinated. Along with these reasons, minorities are also skeptical about the efficacy of the vaccine. This unwillingness to get vaccinated will cause a slow recovery from the pandemic among BIPOC households, which have been hit the hardest in this pandemic.