How to talk to patients of color about the COVID-19 vaccine amid hesitancy and mistrust

Clinician provides a vaccine to a patient

A new Monica Peek, MD, MPH, an internist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, and her co-authors wrote the piece because there are few COVID-19 vaccine resources for physicians that take into account the role systemic racism plays in influencing patients’ health decisions.

"Clinicians may feel ill-equipped to address concerns about the coronavirus … vaccine that are rooted in the sociopolitical mistrust of communities that experience health disparities, discrimination and structural injustice in their everyday lives," the authors wrote in their editorial published February 8. "This mistrust is multifactorial and is not restricted to concerns about COVID-19 vaccine safety and"efficacy. It is rooted in a history of unethical medical and public health experimentation involving communities of color, as well as structural inequities in government institutions."

The article’s advice comes at a critical time in the country’s vaccine rollout. Nationwide, public health officials are working to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. But vaccine uptake has been particularly low in communities of color, which have also been disproportionately burdened by the pandemic.

Peek and co-authors