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COVID-19

Black Residents And Women Are Less Willing To Get COVID-19 Vaccine, Central Texas Survey Finds

Workers pack up equipment after a vaccination event in Southeast Austin in January.
Julia Reihs
/
KUT
Workers pack up equipment after a vaccination event in Southeast Austin in January.

Black Americans and women in Travis County are significantly less likely to say they will definitely get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a survey conducted by Sendero Health Plans.

Sendero Health Plans, which provides health insurance to low-income people in eight Central Texas counties, sent members a survey about vaccines in November.

Members were asked to respond to the statement: “I plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available.” A total of 1,648 people — mostly from Travis, Williamson and Hays counties — responded. Among those who answered, about 64% said “yes,” while almost 36% said “no,” or that they were “unsure” or preferred not to answer.

John R. Litaker, the principal researcher for the study, said responses varied when broken down by race/ethnicity, gender and income level.

“Within the African American population, 34.9 percent said, yes, they planned to get the vaccine," he said, "which is quite below the overall yes.”

Litaker’s analysis found that Black respondents were about 47% less likely than people who weren't Black to say they'd get vaccinated.

One of the more surprising parts of the survey found that women were 19% less likely to get the vaccine than men.

“We have a gap here,” Litaker said. “From a research perspective, this is a finding that we would not have expected to occur by chance. It’s a real finding; we just don’t know why.”

Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard said it’s clear there are groups local officials will have to start communicating with more consistently about vaccines.

“We always knew that there would be some level of vaccine hesitancy, but what surprised me is that more females were saying no,” she said.

The survey also found that Mexican Americans and low-income people were significantly less likely to be vaccinated — about 15% and 11% respectively.

Cynthia Valadez, a community leader with LULAC and member of the Central Health Board of Managers, said there needs to be more buy-in from elected and appointed officials to ensure there’s education targeted at “historically excluded and marginalized” populations in the area.

“It would require the implementation of strategies that are culturally and linguistically appropriate,” she said. “It would mean partnering with community-based organizations that have historical roots in our individual and distinct communities.”

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