Safety Concerns Lead COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Latino Parents

About three in five Latino parents attributed their COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy to concerns regarding vaccine safety and effectiveness, researchers found.

While COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is not a new concept, especially among minorities, Latino parents still hold safety concerns when it comes to vaccinating their children, according to a survey sent to journalists.

At the start of the vaccine rollout, Black and Hispanic individuals were more reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine than White people.

Even two years after FDA's vaccine approval, Hispanic people have been less likely than their White counterparts to receive a vaccine, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In light of these disparities, a national survey of more than 3,000 Latino parents examined parent decisions to vaccinate their children, trusted information sources, and specific COVID-19-related concerns among parents with children 18 and under.

Researchers noticed that most Latino parents and their older children were vaccinated, but the vaccination rate was low for many younger children.

The study showed vaccine uptake was higher than 70 percent for Latino children over age 12, with Latino children between six months and four years old at an uptake of 23 percent.

Most Latino families said protecting their family was the primary reason to vaccinate themselves or their children.

However, for those unvaccinated, fears over the potential adverse side effects of taking a COVID-19 vaccine largely contribute to vaccine hesitancy. More than 80 percent of parents are worried that their young children and their children ages 12 to 18 are at risk of becoming seriously ill after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

The results showed that Latino communities need more outreach and education to address parental COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, with many survey respondents saying they want more time to learn about vaccination side effects.

Additionally, further information from providers could increase vaccination uptake. Other studies have shown that providers have played an essential role during the pandemic, oftentimes acting as patient educators to address vaccine hesitancy.

Pediatrician offices must work with parents to understand the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety and efficacy by using traditional patient outreach messaging and interpersonal communication skills rooted in empathy.

“These survey results give us insight into the real and significant concerns Latino parents face,” Sylvia Manzano, MD, vice president of Operations at BSP Research, said in a press release. “The poll results can help us make recommendations to policymakers that will have a real impact on the health and well-being of our Latino community.”

Among other findings, the results showed that most parents were concerned about COVID-19 threats to health and personal financial situations. According to the survey, 55 percent of parents said financial assistance to replace lost income when taking time off work for vaccinations or dealing with side effects would address the financial concern associated with vaccinations.

“We must address the outstanding social and economic concerns that are affecting the mental and physical health of our community,” said Edward Garza, CEO of the Mexican American Council. “This poll gives us the insight to focus our attention on areas that will have a real impact on a local level.” 

Additionally, most parents cited access barriers to pediatric COVID-19 vaccination uptake. Fifty-two percent agreed that flexible vaccination hours would alleviate some access barriers and increase uptake.

“The results of this survey make clear that concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic are still very much on Latino parents’ minds,” said Rita Carreón, UnidosUS vice president of health. “It is essential that state and federal governments, providers, and employers provide additional COVID-19 resources and education for Latino parents as we transition from a pandemic to the endemic phase of this virus. Sustainable funding is needed for testing, vaccination clinics, paid sick leave, and amplifying cultural-relevant mental health resources.” 

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