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Saturday, December 2, 2023


Vaccine hesitancy brings concerns to clinical communities

vaccine hesitancy Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

For a while, hesitancy to get a coronavirus vaccine has been an ongoing concern for many groups of people, but with the vaccine rolling out in phases across the country, concerns about how it will aid underserved communities have risen.

“Let me say, vaccine hesitancy is more common than people think. It’s been around for a very long time, even during influenza vaccines,” said associate dean for research Dr. Bettina Beech. 

“But in terms of COVID(19), there’s been vaccine hesitancy across many different groups. So, I think that’s really important to recognize it’s not just groups that are experiencing health disparities, but there’s been a fair amount of concern across, including (with) healthcare providers,” Beech added.

There is a significant percentage of the overall population that does not get their annual vaccines, said Beech.

In a statewide survey from the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs, 22 percent of Texans say they will not accept a vaccine. Whereas 9 percent is yet to be decided in regards to the vaccine.

Beech heads a team of researchers at the University, who are working with community organizations to help ethnic communities who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

These organizations include the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, and Change Happens.

“They will be helping us to recruit and engage with members of the Latino and African American community, including community leaders across many different sectors, such as the faith sector, education sector and social services,” Beech said.

The research brought Beech and her team to win a $12 million award to RTI International, a nonprofit research institution, which supports schools like UH.

The research team is currently waiting for approval from the Institutional Review Board, a component of the Food and Drug Administration. 

Beech reminds people to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe and effective in fighting COVID-19, she said.

“It’s also an unprecedented public private partnership of scientists from around the world who collaborated on developing this. And this just shows what we can do when we’re collectively focused on one mission,” Beech said. “So, it is a safe and effective vaccine having experienced the vaccine.”

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