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African Americans were more hesitant than white Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccines when they first became available in December 2020. But six months later, that reluctance to getting innoculated declined to the point where race doesn't appear to be a major factor in whether someone is willing to get a vaccine, according to a new study in the American Medical Association's JAMA Network Open.
In December 2020, 38 percent of Black respondents surveyed said they didn't plan to get a vaccine, compared with 28 percent of white respondents. By June 2021, 26 percent of Black and 27 percent of white respondents were vaccine hesitant.
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"What this shows is that, over this time period Black Americans believed more in the idea that vaccines were necessary to protect themselves and their community," explained Tasleem Padamsee, an assistant professor of health services management and policy at Ohio State University's College of Public Health.
Study researchers attribute the increase in the number of African Americans being willing to get vaccinated to more information being available about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccines, as well as a concerted education campaign by Black organizations and leaders trusted in their communities to reassure people that the vaccines are an excellent preventive measure. Vaccine advocates also had to get past the institutional distrust of the medical system that many black Americans have, dating back to abuse and experimental treatments foisted on African Americans. "So there's a tendency to be cautious," Padamsee, the lead author of the study, said in an interview with AARP.