How to Overcome COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Engage, Trust, & Understand  

Many people of color have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, and since December, some of the most common concerns we’ve heard include:

  • The overall benefits, safety, and side effects. The Moderna COVID vaccine that Wheeler administers has an effectiveness rate has been reported to be approximately 94%, well above the average effectiveness of the flu vaccine, for example. Common side effects are pain and swelling in the injection area, and typically more often in the second shot, mild fever, chills, tiredness, and headache that lasts 24-48 hours. Often perceived side effects are the immune system responding to the vaccine and ramping up the immune response. This is a good thing!
  • The speed of development process. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House Briefing on Thursday (Nov. 19), “[the COVID vaccine] ...was a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines which allowed us to do things in months that actually took years before.” Please see the link at the bottom of this page for more information.
  • Representation of people of color within the trials. Moderna’s COVE study of the 37,000 participants in their Phase 3 study of their vaccine revealed that 30% of participants were Black (10%) or Hispanic/LatinX (20%). Distrust in the political and economic motivations of the government and companies involved in the making and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. This distrust is rightly based on longstanding systemic racism in America, including the Tuskegee Experiments and other examples of racial injustice, particularly in health care.

These realities can make people feel less safe, and will be addressed by doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other professionals at Wheeler, who are a factual resource for our patients. Clergy and other faith-based organization leadership can also provide spiritual guidance, and trusted voluntary organizations and institutions are other resources available to help ease apprehension around getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The virus has disproportionately affected communities of color. These populations often have a higher rate of underlying health issues such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and lung disease that can cause complications if an individual contracts COVID-19. Evidence also points to higher rates of hospitalization or death from the virus than among non-Hispanic white persons.

Because of social determinants of health, such as higher exposure to the virus at their essential work and lack of access to care, the rate of people of color getting the COVID-19 is 1.4 times more likely than non-Hispanic white persons. They are also 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.8 times more likely to die. However, as of December 2020, only 38% of people of color said they would get the vaccine, yet the effectiveness rate is 97.5% in people of color, reported by the National Institute of Health.

Visit our COVID-19 vaccine page for more answers to frequently asked questions, and be sure to visit these links as well, addressing concern about the vaccine from populations of color:

Excerpt from Kizzmekia Corbett, PhD, a Black woman scientific lead on the coronavirus vaccine team.

Resources: – COVID 19 Resource Center

COVID-19 vaccines: Safety, side effects –– and coincidence

Back to Top