Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced it will commit $250 million in funding to improve COVID-19 vaccine health literacy in vulnerable and medically underserved communities. With the logistics of administering vaccines no longer an overwhelming question mark and an ample supply of doses available, vaccine hesitancy has quickly emerged as one of the biggest hurdles to overcoming the pandemic. In fact, polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 17% of Americans still want to “wait and see” before getting vaccinated, and that figure increases to 24% among Black Americans.
Vaccine hesitancy among vulnerable and medically underserved communities is especially concerning, as these populations have the greatest risk of contracting and becoming severely ill with COVID-19. For some, vaccine hesitancy is an understandable result of a lack of trust in the US health care system, brought on by past negative experiences and systemic inequities. For others, the hesitation can be attributed to low health literacy (ie, having insufficient capacity to obtain, process or understand the information needed to make decisions about healthcare).