Story at a glance
- Members of the LGBTQ+ community have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, especially those of color.
- While LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to say they will get the COVID-19 vaccine than the general population, certain communities lag behind.
- Black and Latino LGBTQ+ adults are significantly less likely to get vaccinated compared to white LGBTQ+ adults.
The LGBTQ+ community is far from a monolith, and public health experts are learning that it can’t be treated as one when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. A new survey finds that while LGBTQ+ adults as a whole are more likely to get vaccinated than the general adult population, there’s more to the picture.
LGBTQ+ adults of color, especially bisexual adults, are more likely to be concerned about effectiveness and potential unknown side effects of the vaccine, as well as the vaccine testing and approval process, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), even though they are among the most vulnerable populations when it comes COVID-19.
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“People living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities may be less likely to say they want to get vaccinated,” found the analysis of a recent survey. Indeed, Black and Indigenous Americans were more likely to be skeptical of a vaccine in October, before any had been approved for use in the United States. And while Black, Indigenous, Latino and other people of color are more likely to contract COVID-19 than white people, the rollout of the vaccine has been inequitable, and many of them are getting vaccinated at much lower rates than the white population.
So while 47 percent of white LGBTQ+ adults and 42 percent of all LGBTQ+ adults are very likely to get vaccinated, according to the report, just 29 percent of Black LGBTQ+ adults said the same. Meanwhile, 53 percent of transgender adults, including 47 percent of transgender adults of color, and 49 percent of lesbian and gay adults say they are very likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to just 38 percent of bisexual adults and 32 percent of bisexual women.
“We know that despite having three vaccines available for COVID-19, concerns remain for many in the LGBTQ community, especially LGBTQ people of color and bisexual people,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement. “This educational campaign, ‘For Ourselves, For Each Other: Getting to the Other Side of the Pandemic,’ aims to communicate the facts and latest information about the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as address medical mistrust and community concerns. Although we can now see the other side of the pandemic, we need to make sure that none of us are left behind.”
In addition to sharing resources about accessing the vaccine and vaccine safety, HRC is pulling out the big (public health) guns, hosting a virtual forum with the president's chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci. Fauci, who has been director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has a unique relationship with the LGBTQ+ community as one of the leading researchers during the AIDS epidemic. The failure of the medical community to more quickly and effectively respond to HIV and AIDS when it first emerged in the 1980s among the gay population in the United States has bred mistrust among some.
“I do think, if you keep trying to take the politics out of it and explaining the science, people who have doubts will eventually, in the main, see that both the vaccines and the public health measures work. The thing that doesn’t work is to call them stupid," Fauci told a meeting of global health journalists in January.
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