COvID vaccine vial

Black and Latinx people have been more proactive than other races about seeking information about COVID-19, wearing masks and getting tested for the virus. But as a group, they were more skeptical about the vaccines, according to a new Rutgers University study.

The study, which appears in JAMA Network Open, offers insights into what motivates people in minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Researchers interviewed more than 100 people from low-income Black and Latinx communities in New Jersey.

“Fear, illness and loss experienced during the pandemic motivated them to intensely seek information and take safety precautions like wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands to protect themselves and loved ones,” study co-author Manuel Jimenez, an assistant professor of pediatrics, family medicine and community health at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said. “However, participants did not trust the vaccine development process and wanted clearer information.”

Researchers said respondents questioned how a vaccine for a new virus could be developed so quickly and whether the vaccines would work against different variants. Black respondents, in particular, mentioned a distrust of government healthcare systems and the government, citing racism, discriminatory interventions and medical experimentation.

Jimenez said scientists and community healthcare workers need to work collaboratively with trusted leaders in those communities to provide transparent information, rather than relying on vaccination marketing campaigns.