Multiple Factors Contribute To COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Older, Ethnic Minorities


Older adults from minority ethnic backgrounds are at increased risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19, yet vaccine hesitancy is high amongst individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds. A study published in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Cini Bhanu of University College London, United Kingdom, and colleagues identifies thirteen factors influencing vaccine uptake among older, ethnic minority individuals.

The barriers towards and facilitators of vaccination among older, ethnic minority individuals are not well studied. To better understand the key factors influencing COVID-19 vaccination status, researchers conducted a systematic review of 28 published studies on vaccine uptake within minority communities around the world. The researchers then conducted a synthesized content analysis, grouping data into themes falling into three predetermined structural determinants of COVID-19 vaccination status: 1) healthcare provider and system related; 2) patient-related; 3) policy and operational level.

The researchers were able to identify 13 different themes related to vaccine uptake. Some themes summarized barriers to vaccination, such as misinformation or personal beliefs, while other themes outlined factors facilitating access, such as vaccination reminders from healthcare providers. The study was limited in that all publications reported on influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, not COVID-19. As the researchers did not review COVID-19 specific studies, future research is needed to understand whether vaccine mandates facilitate COVID-19 vaccine uptake among minority communities.

According to the authors, “factors influencing vaccination uptake involve provider and healthcare system, patient-related and governance level factors that are specific to the older ethnic minority community being served.”

Bhanu adds, “Vaccination uptake amongst older adults from minority ethnic backgrounds can be supported through a multi-level approach – including increased education, access and culturally competent discussions with trusted healthcare professionals to address health beliefs. Such measures can maximize the potential impact of widespread vaccination policies.”

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