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Despite what you may have seen in recent Chicago media reports, African-Americans are actually becoming much less hesitant about vaccinations

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2021

* There are two big, undisclosed problems with this story

Cook County has launched a new COVID-19 vaccine campaign, based in part on a survey showing that 46% of African-American residents say they likely would not get the shot or were unsure about getting it.

“The ‘My Shot’ campaign speaks directly to these individuals who need to hear from their neighbors about the safety of these shots and the importance of making the choice to get vaccinated,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Monday during a Facebook Live event.

The campaign drew on responses from about 1,100 Cook County residents surveyed earlier this year. Among other things, it found that, overall, 32% of respondents were hesitant about getting the vaccine. Broken down by race, 46% of Black and 35% of Latino residents “probably would not, definitely would not or were unsure if they would get the vaccine.”

Not trying to pick on the Sun-Times because every Chicago media outlet ran essentially the same piece. But, like I said, there are two problems here if you look at the actual poll commissioned by the county. I decided to wait until I received the results before posting anything about them.

1) The poll was taken January 25 through February 9. Those are relatively ancient numbers because more recent polling shows vaccine hesitancy, including among African-Americans, has been declining for months as more people get their shots. This is from a March 3-8 NPR/PBS Marist poll

According to a new poll, vaccine hesitancy among African-Americans is now on par with reluctance among white Americans.

That poll is here. The results clearly show that Republican men are by far the most resistant to getting vaxed, with 50 percent saying they would be vaccinated or have been vaccinated and 49 percent saying they would not be vaccinated. That’s compared to 73 percent of Black people who said they will or have been vaccinated and 25 percent who said they wouldn’t. Other recent polls have shown much the same thing.

Recent national Latinx attitudes seem to be more in line with that Cook County poll, however. 63 percent said they will or have been vaxed, while 37 percent said they would not take the shot.

2) Cook County’s media rollout lumped “definitely would not,” “probably would not” and “unsure” into the same result. Those are three very different attitudes. The results for African-Americans on this outdated survey were 19 percent definitely would not, 16 percent probably would not and 13 percent unsure.

* None of this is meant to say that Cook County shouldn’t be launching a campaign to convince people to take their shots. But things can change in life, and sometimes things change fast. So, using polling results that are as much as 51 days old on a rapidly evolving topic makes little sense to me and risks perpetuating a stereotype.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

17 Comments
  1. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 2:00 pm:

    “Reluctance” and “refusal” are very different things and the conflating of the two was needlessly reckless.

    – MrJM


  2. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 2:00 pm:

    Wow, Republican men willing to risk their lives to own the libs. That’s dedication.


  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 2:15 pm:

    Is the stereotype that Blacks are reluctant to get vaccinated because of the illegal, immoral medical testing done to unsuspecting Black Americans as far back as the 40s? Because I’m not sure that’s perpetuating a stereotype as much as it is an explanation for a predictable lack of trust in government-sponsored experimental vaccine programs.


  4. - Hot Taeks - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 2:33 pm:

    This really was a self-fulfilling prophecy based on dubious statistics the entire time. Now I don’t fault the lack of polling/data since accurate polling is very expensive and time consuming to do. Especially when you’re concentrated on subgroups of the population. There’s going to be a lot of variance and uncertainty in the results. That being said, you have every right to pick on the Chicago media for their continual bad reporting on issues like this.


  5. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 2:36 pm:

    ====reluctant to get vaccinated because of the illegal, immoral medical testing done to unsuspecting Black Americans as far back as the 40s===

    You don’t have to go that far back.


  6. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    ===You don’t have to go that far back.===

    Sadly, no. Just one example, the Tuskegee Study began in 1932 and continued until 1972.

    If any stereotypes are being perpetuated by this polling data, it’s Republican men who are turning themselves into caricatures by risking the continued spread of COVID to own the libs. How dumb is that?


  7. - Nick - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 3:28 pm:

    The group who is not most hesitance or outright not intending to get the vaccine are… Republicans.

    Which I suspect won’t be improving with the likes of Tucker Carlson peddling vaccine concern.


  8. - RWC - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 4:56 pm:

    >As far back as

    … which seems to imply a continuing situation that began that far back

    >You don’t even have to go that far back

    The “even” adding to the impression that this is an issue that may be ongoing.

    >Just one example

    Making it sound like you’re aware of other such instances, possibly more recent.

    Are you?

    My sense is that the Tuskegee study is THE instance in most of our lifetimes, certainly in mine going back to the mid 60’s.

    It’s absolutely horrendous. It also met with such public revulsion that it led to vast changes in the way medical studies must be conducted and reported, rendering such things illegal. By the mid-70s, 45 years ago.

    I think it’s misleading to make elliptical statements that suggest “hey, we all know this is only the tip of the iceberg.”

    It isn’t and hasn’t been in decades. And that’s because already by 1972, public opinion wouldn’t allow it, and it wasn’t even possible to mount a defense.

    Exaggerating the prevalence and currency of such things can be responsible for causing some people to adopt the attitude you’re describing, and decline the covid vaccine because maybe it’s another hoax being played on African Americans.

    I don’t believe there is any valid reason to fear such things today.


  9. - RWC - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 4:58 pm:

    I know I was quoting different people, and didn’t mean to give a different impression. I’m describing the effect of the conversation, not any given comment. This is also the effect of much news coverage making reference to Tuskegee.


  10. - Liandro - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 4:59 pm:

    Exactly. Just like more people started to respect the danger of the virus when people they knew starting to get sick and even die. As more people see others getting the vaccine, they will move into a greater degree of comfort–and that can happen quickly. I’ve seen it happen in a matter of hours as they read up on the topic and discuss with those who have received it.


  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 4:59 pm:

    ===It isn’t and hasn’t been in decades===

    A simple Google search will find plenty of contemporary examples of grossly unequal treatment of medical patients.


  12. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 5:00 pm:

    ===As more people see others getting the vaccine, they will move into a greater degree of comfort===

    People see a line and want to get in it. The American way.


  13. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 5:15 pm:

    If the Tuskegee Study wasn’t horrible enough for you, there’s this:

    https://time.com/4746297/henrietta-lacks-movie-history-research-oprah/

    Don’t make me do your homework for you. I have my own kids to teach.


  14. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 5:22 pm:

    ===I don’t believe there is any valid reason to fear such things today.===

    Don’t you think maybe that’s because you haven’t lived the same experience as Black Americans? With a little bit of empathy, maybe you can understand that not everyone experiences America the same way you do.


  15. - Amalia - Wednesday, Mar 17, 21 @ 6:15 pm:

    we need lots of examples of doctors and other STEM successes to be shown to the Black and Hispanic communities in general. inspiration. As for Republican men, show country music stars, hedge fund managers, and use Trumps urging quote.


  16. - RWC - Thursday, Mar 18, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    I recognize that racism still exists in many places, both in unconscious bias and the actions of people who hate.

    I do see a major difference between these things and formal and official programs like the Tuskegee study. And suspect that many African Americans may see a difference as well.

    47th ward, I haven’t lived the life of an African American.

    But my point seems consistent with the point of the post, which is suggesting that African American attitudes about the virus have changed quickly.

    It seems unlikely that there would have been large differences in white and African American willingness to take the vaccine in January that would so rapidly decline in 8 weeks if the initial wariness was rooted in deep fear that this might be something like the Tuskegee study, or that something like the Tuskegee study might still happen.


  17. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 18, 21 @ 10:09 pm:

    RWC, I think the point is, African Americans have a reason to be hesitant about this vaccine based on history. And yet what the data show is that it’s Republican men who are most hesitant. One of these two subsets has some historic cause for concern, the other is blinded by political brain washing.

    That’s the takeaway.


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