Pfizer FDA Approval More Likely to Sway Black, Hispanic Holdouts
(Bloomberg) -- For many vaccine holdouts, Monday’s full regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration of the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE shot is just the news they said they were waiting for to finally get inoculated. That’s particularly true, among Black and Hispanic people — two groups that still lag in vaccination rates across the U.S.
An update to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey from June shared with Bloomberg News found that among unvaccinated respondents, 46% of Hispanic and 41% of Black people said FDA approval would make them more likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine, compared to 25% of White people surveyed. Overall, KFF’s survey found that 31% of unvaccinated people said they were more likely to get vaccinated if the FDA gave full approval to vaccines. More than half of unvaccinated Black, Hispanic and White people said the “vaccine is too new” as a major reason for not getting the shot.
Approval “is the next and probably the last big opportunity to sharpen and drive home a clear message that the Covid vaccines are safe and effective,” said Drew Altman, chief executive of Kaiser Family Foundation, earlier this month.
Eight months into the national inoculation drive, vaccine hesitancy persists for a variety of reasons — but mistrust of the shots, all of which only had emergency authorization until today, ranks high. As the delta variant enacts a particularly heavy toll on the unvaccinated, public health and government officials have urged more people to get their shots. A mini vaccination surge had followed the rise of the latest Covid wave in the U.S., especially among Black and Hispanic Americans living in hard hit states. Experts suspect Monday’s news will only lead to even more uptake among these groups.
FDA approval is “another thing to put in the toolkit,” said Liz Hamel, director of survey research at KFF.
Still, effectively communicating information will be crucial in reaching people, she added. “Figuring out how to message it will be really important for those groups on the ground,” Hamel said. Mis- and disinformation has plagued the vaccine rollout, with the Biden administration blaming Facebook Inc. and other social media companies for “killing people” by allowing falsehoods to spread. In Kaiser’s June survey, more than half of respondents were unsure if Covid-19 vaccines were approved by the FDA.
Bronx Rising Initiative, which does vaccine outreach in the Bronx, New York, doesn’t expect FDA approval to move the needle immediately.
“It might not get people to change their mind in one instance. It takes time,” said Jason Autar, chief operating officer of the nonprofit. “But once we get people talking, it might help put things in perspective and give them clarity.”
The FDA news will have an indirect effect on increasing vaccination among Latinos due to expected mandates by schools and workplaces, said Frankie Miranda, president of the Hispanic Federation.
“It’s much more complex than FDA approval. In our community, we’ll continue to get culturally and linguistically relevant information to people,” said Miranda. “Cookie cutter responses are not going to work.”
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