‘Not ready’: These Californians hesitant to take COVID vaccine, despite surge

Steven Cornfield

"Nearly 43% of Latino adults surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California in October said they would probably or definitely not likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine."

Mina Perez, of Sacramento, could be among the millions of Californians to receive a vaccine this year to protect against a virus that has infected more than 2.4 million people in the state.

But don’t expect her to roll up her sleeve anytime soon.

“I’m just kind of hesitant,” Perez, 64, said. “I just don’t think there’s been enough time to analyze (the vaccine) and to find out the effects of it.”

Her worries point to Gov. Gavin Newsom administration’s particular challenge in persuading Latino Californians, including health care workers, to take the coronavirus vaccine, a step that is critical to ending the pandemic and restoring normal life to the state.

Despite Latinos accounting for 55% of the state’s COVID-19 cases and 47.5% of virus-related deaths, many continue to express hesitancy toward getting the vaccine compared to white Californians.

Nearly 43% of Latino adults surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California in October said they would probably or definitely not likely to get the vaccine, with the majority citing the vaccine was developed “too fast without fully establishing it is safe and effective.”

That hesitancy is higher than the 35% of white Californians who reported they would not take the vaccine.

The numbers tell Kiran Savage-Sangwan, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, that the state needs to focus on informing low-income communities of color about the vaccine’s safety and utilize trusted messengers to get Latinos accurate and useful details about the vaccine’s distribution.

“We have to remember that our healthcare system has not historically been particularly responsive to the needs of communities of color in general, and Latino communities in particular,” Savage-Sangwan said. “It’s really important that we are able to have trusted community messengers, people who can talk to community members in their primary language.”

Building trust

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for emergency use last year. They “have been shown to be safe and effective as determined by data from the manufacturers and findings from large clinical trials,” according to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention. Federal agencies, including the FDA and CDC, have put safety monitoring systems in place during the vaccines’ distribution to detect potential side effects from the vaccine.

Newsom has said his administration planned to build trust with Latino communities…

Read more HERE.

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