Virtual town halls addressing vaccine hesitancy among racial/ethnic minorities: Preliminary findings

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Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic remains a public health priority, and vaccination is important for ending the pandemic. Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionally affected by COVID-19 yet report high levels of vaccination hesitancy. Objective: We conducted virtual town halls to address vaccine hesitancy among racial and ethnic minorities in South Florida. Methods: Our approach used social influence and persuasion models. In a formative phase, we gathered meeting preferences from our communities and developed and tested our approach. In an implementation phase, we conducted 6 virtual town halls in partnership with minority community-based organizations. Results: The town halls reached 383 participants (mean age 37.5 years; 63.4% female, 33.9% male, 2.7% nonbinary; 59% racial/ethnic minority) who completed pre- and postmeeting as-sessments. Among nonvaccinated participants, at the prepoll, 58% reported a high likelihood of seeking vaccination, rising to 63% at the postassessment. Unvaccinated non-hesitant and hesitant groups were compared on trusted information sources and reasons and barriers for vaccination. Nonhesitant participants reported significantly greater trust in the COVID-19 Task Force (97.3% vs. 83.3%) as a source of vaccine information than did hesitant participants. Nonhesitant participants were significantly more likely to endorse family safety (82.5% vs. 63.2%), community safety (72.5% vs. 26.3%), personal safety (85% vs. 36.8%), and wanting to return to a normal life (70% vs. 31.6%) as reasons for vaccination than were hesitant participants. Hesitant participants were significantly more likely to endorse concerns about vaccine safety doubts (63.2% vs. 17.5%) and not believing the pandemic is as bad as people say it is (21.1% vs. 5%) as barriers to vaccination than were nonhesitant participants. Qualitative data revealed high consumer satisfaction with the town halls. Conclusion: This study supports the feasibility, acceptability, and potential impact of virtual town halls for addressing vaccine hesitancy among racial/ethnic minorities; however, our approach was resource intensive, required an extensive community-university collaborative infrastructure, and yielded a small effect. (C) 2022 American Pharmacists Association (R). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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