Building Trust in and Access to a COVID-19 Vaccine Within Communities of Color and Tribal Nations         

Policymakers and the healthcare sector must earn trust within communities of color and tribal communities to ensure COVID-19 vaccine receptivity, say public health leaders. Policy brief calls for building vaccine acceptance through data transparency, tailored communications via trusted messengers, ensuring ease of vaccine access and zero out-of-pocket costs.

December 21, 2020

This policy brief, co-authored by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), the National Medical Association (NMA) and UnidosUS, reports that historic maltreatment of communities of color and tribal nations, coupled with current day structural racism, are the root of distrust of government and healthcare in many communities of color and tribal communities.  Historic factors and current racism have also played out in COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on people of color. These realities make building vaccine trust within these communities challenging, and, of critical importance to protecting lives and ending the pandemic.

In late October 2020, TFAH, NMA and UnidosUS hosted a policy convening with 40 leading minority health, healthcare, civil rights, and public health organizations. The purpose of the convening was to advise policymakers on the barriers to vaccine receptivity within communities of color and how to overcome those barriers.

“Earning trust within communities of color and tribal communities will be critical to the successful administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. Doing so will require prioritizing equity, and ensuring that leaders from those communities have authentic opportunities to impact vaccine distribution and administration planning and the resources to fully participate in supporting vaccine outreach, education  and delivery in their communities,” said Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, Executive Vice President and COO of Trust for America’s Health.

The convening created recommendations for policy actions that should be taken immediately within six key areas:

  1. Ensure the scientific fidelity of the vaccine development process.
  2. Equip trusted community organizations and networks within communities of color and tribal communities to participate in vaccination planning, education, delivery and administration. Ensure their meaningful engagement and participation by providing funding.
  3. Provide communities the information they need to understand the vaccine, make informed decisions, and deliver messages through trusted messengers and pathways.
  4. Ensure that it is as easy as possible for people to be vaccinated. Vaccines must be delivered in community settings that are trusted, safe and accessible.
  5. Ensure complete coverage of the costs associated with the vaccine incurred by individuals, providers of the vaccine, and state/local/tribal/territorial governments responsible for administering the vaccine and communicating with their communities about it.
  6. Congress must provide additional funding and require disaggregated data collection and reporting by age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, primary language, disability status, and other demographic factors on vaccine trust and acceptance, access, vaccination rates, adverse experiences, and ongoing health outcomes.

Read the Full Vaccination Brief