Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Out Boulder County in partnership with El Centro AMISTAD and Unwoven Ventures with the leadership of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) youth created what may be the nation’s first LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth-led survey on COVID-19 vaccination uptake, acceptance, hesitancy, and resistance.

A key finding of the survey is that economic disadvantage and race make a meaningful impact on vaccination rates and levels of acceptance.

“LGBTQ+ and BIPOC young people are too often ignored by the medical establishment and society. It was important to Out Boulder County and our partners to have youth lead the survey and to elevate voices in these too often ignored communities,” said Mardi Moore, Executive Director of Out Boulder County which provides advocacy, services, programs and support to LGBTQ+ communities in Boulder County and beyond. “Understanding their views and attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination is crucial to managing and ending this pandemic.”

There were 420 respondents who met the criteria for inclusion in the survey. It consisted of 37 questions, was offered in both English and Spanish, and targeted youth ages 12 to 17 and young adults between the ages of 18 to 24.

There continues to be little research that examines the vaccination rates and attitudes toward vaccination of youth and young adults belonging to historically marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ+, Hispanic/Latinx, Neurodivergent and individuals with Disabilities.

“Studying vaccination rates as well as views, attitudes, and barriers to vaccination at these intersections of identities revealed valuable data that should inform efforts to promote vaccination,” said Michal Duffy, Director of Education and Research at Out Boulder County. “The data clearly reveal that a person's socio-economic status and identity impacts their views toward vaccination and their successful uptake of the vaccine.”

When it comes to understanding COVID-19 vaccine reluctance, this information is crucial to an effective community vaccination program, which requires participation by people of every age group and demographic.

Key Survey Findings

Economic Status Impact on Vaccination Rates

A key finding of this study is that economically disadvantaged respondents have lower rates of vaccination overall. Economic disadvantage made a much more significant impact on LGBTQ vaccination rates as compared to non-LGBTQ vaccination rates. The following bulleted data points illustrate this key finding.

● 40% of economically disadvantaged LGBTQ young adults ages 18-24 are vaccinated, where as the vaccination rates jump to 86% for those who are economically resourced. 70% of economically disadvantaged LGBTQ youth ages 12-17 are vaccinated compared to 81% who are economically resourced.

● All non-LGBTQ respondents ages 18-24, whether economically disadvantaged or resourced, have a 78% vaccination rate. For youth ages 12-17, economically disadvantaged non-LGBTQ respondents are vaccinated at a slightly higher rate of 61% than those who are economically resourced at a rate of 58%.

The results also showed a significant relationship between race, economic advantage, and vaccination rates. Economically disadvantaged Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) respondents have a significantly higher vaccination rate than economically disadvantaged White respondents.

● For financially disadvantaged respondents ages 12-17, BIPOC youth reported a 68% vaccination rate compared to 57% for White respondents. For ages 18-24, the difference is even greater at 80% of BIPOC respondents compared to 27% of White respondents.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Vaccine Acceptance, Hesitancy, and Resistance

While economically disadvantaged respondents revealed lower vaccination rates overall, they reported higher rates of vaccine acceptance (50% vs 30%) and hesitancy (23% vs 11%) and lower vaccine resistance (27% vs 59%), than those who are financially resourced.

This demonstrates an opportunity to reach economically disadvantaged, unvaccinated youth through innovative community-based strategies.

Another important finding is that BIPOC respondents have a significantly higher rate of vaccine acceptance and lower vaccine resistance than White respondents; this trend also holds true for Hispanic/Latinx respondents in comparison to non-Hispanic/Latinx respondents. White, non-LGBTQ respondents reported the lowest vaccination rate compared to both LGBTQ and Non-LGBTQ BIPOC, as well as White LGBTQ respondents.

For unvaccinated participants who reported that they are willing to get the vaccine if it is easily accessible (i.e., vaccine accepting), the highest reported barriers were parent-related, followed by transportation and not knowing where to get the vaccine or the cost. “My parents don’t want me to get the vaccine” was reported as the top reason for the following respondent groups: White, non-Hispanic, English as the primary household language, assigned male at birth, transgender, nonbinary, and LGBTQ respondents.

Additional cited concerns that present opportunities for educational outreach to youth and young adults include: impacts on fertility, interactions with other conditions, associated costs, and accessibility and availability of vaccines.

Regardless of vaccination status, all respondents have concerns. Overall, mental health (65%) and physical health (58%) are the greatest concerns.

Opportunities

The survey findings demonstrated three important opportunities to reach unvaccinated youth and young adults.

● Community-based outreach and education strategies aimed at economically disadvantaged, unvaccinated youth have the potential to make substantial impacts on vaccinate acceptance and uptake numbers.

● Accessible and accurate vaccine education for parents about the importance and benefit of vaccination for youth and young adults that also addresses common misconceptions could remove the primary barriers facing vaccine-accepting youth and young adults.

● All education efforts should include clear and accurate information addressing commonly cited concerns in the survey data including: impacts on fertility, interactions with other conditions, associated costs, and accessibility and availability of vaccines.

The full research report is available here.

About Out Boulder County:

For over 25 years, Out Boulder County has advocated, educated and provided services, programs and support to Boulder County's LGBTQ+ communities. Our public policy advocacy is more important now than ever. www.outboulder.org

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