Majority of Black Health Care Workers Doubt COVID-19 Vaccines Safe, Poll Finds

A majority of Black frontline health care workers in the U.S. say they have doubts that any of the three COVID-19 vaccines are safe, a new survey finds.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey released Friday found that 48 percent of health care workers overall remain unvaccinated across the country, including doctors, nurses, home health aides and housekeepers. The survey was conducted among 1,327 U.S. frontline health workers whose jobs routinely put them in direct contact with potential coronavirus patients.

Skepticism toward the three FDA-authorized vaccines is high among Black American health care workers, the survey found, with 53 percent saying they're not confident in vaccination safety. That was even higher than among Black Americans in general, 47 percent of whom said they are not confident the vaccinations are safe.

The KFF survey found that just over half, 52 percent, of health care workers overall say they've received at least the first dose of either the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

A separate NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey released last week found that one-quarter of Black respondents did not plan to get vaccinated even when it becomes available to them and their family.

Dr. Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician and public health advocate in California, told NPR that misinformation and a lack of access to health care services are often the root cause of medical distrust among minority communities.

"We know that in this country, one out of five Black adults are unlikely to have a regular provider. They don't have somebody that they go to who they trust for their clinical care. We also know Black folks have some of the highest rates of uninsured and underinsurance," she tells NPR's Morning Edition.

There has been a historical distrust of the medical community among African-Americans that goes back hundreds of years, even to the time of slavery.

Health care workers and the general public have about the same views of vaccine safety, according to the survey, with 65 percent of adults and 64 percent of health care workers expressing high confidence in it. Only about 15 percent of either group said they are "not at all confident" in COVID-19 vaccine safety. According to the KFF survey, eight out of 10 vaccinated health care workers who are not self-employed say they received a vaccine through their employer. On the other hand, just one in five vaccinated workers in patients' homes said the same.

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 30 million Americans since the start of the pandemic last March and has been tied to more than 500,000 U.S. deaths, federal data shows.

Newsweek reached out to the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Saturday morning for additional remarks about the survey findings.

Coronavirus, Vaccine, Johnson & Johnson
Over half of Black health care workers in the U.S. say they aren't confident in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, a new survey finds. In the photograph above, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on March 15 in Louisville, Kentucky. Jon Cherry/Getty Images