A Tale of Two Crises: Addressing Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy as Promoting Racial Justice

Bunch, Lauren
HEC Forum

The year 2020 has yielded twin crises in the United States: a global pandemic and a public reckoning with racism brought about by a series of publicized instances of police violence toward Black men and women. Current data indicate that nationally, Black Americans are three times more likely than White Americans to contract Covid-19 (with further variance by state), a pattern that underscores the more general phenomenon of health disparity among Black and White Americans (Oppel et al. in The New York Times 2020; APM Research Lab Staff in APM Research Lab 2020). Once exposed, Black Americans are twice as likely to die of the virus. Unsurprisingly, Black Americans report higher levels of fear of Covid-19 than their White peers, but they also report higher levels of hesitancy toward a Covid-19 vaccine. This paper explores why this apparent discrepancy exists. It also provides practical recommendations for how government and public health leaders might address vaccine hesitancy in the context of the twin crises of 2020.