DOI: 10.3390/vaccines10081333">

Perceptions of COVID-19 vaccine, racism, and social vulnerability: An examination among East Asian Americans, Southeast Asian Americans, South Asian Americans, and others

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As COVID-19 vaccines are readily available and most U.S. adults who are enthusiastic about the vaccine have received it, motivating those who have not been vaccinated to accept it has become a challenge. The purpose of this study was to understand the mechanisms behind COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in Asian American ethnic groups, including how sociodemographic characteristics and racism predict COVID-19 and vaccine perceptions. The study also examined associations between social vulnerability and COVID-19 and vaccine perceptions. Social vulnerability is defined as the degree to which a community is able to prepare and respond to a natural or man-made disaster. This cross-sectional study used community-based survey data collected from April to September 2021. Study measures included demographics, perceptions of COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines, and racism-related experiences. The results showed that, compared to Non-Asians, East Asians reported that they had significantly more challenges accessing COVID-19 vaccines, and South Asians reported significantly higher safety concerns about COVID-19 vaccines. Our study also found that racism experience mediates the association between race/ethnicity and safety concerns about COVID-19 vaccines. Three Asian subgroups (East Asians, South Asians, and Southeast Asians) experienced more racism (compared to Non-Asians), and more experience of racism was related to greater safety concerns. Geographical Information System (GIS) maps revealed that residents of lower social vulnerability index (SVI) areas reported fewer unfairness perceptions and that higher SVI areas had lower vaccine accessibility and trust in public health agencies. Our study advances the understanding of racism, social vulnerability, and COVID-19 vaccine-related perceptions among Asian Americans. The findings have implications for policymakers and community leaders with respect to tailoring COVID-19 program efforts for socially vulnerable populations and Asian American groups that experience greater challenges regarding vaccine safety concerns and accessibility.


T.-Y. Wu is a faculty member in EMU's School of Nursing.

O. Ford and A. J. Rainville are faculty members in EMU's School of Health Sciences.

X. Yang is a faculty member in EMU's Department of Geography and Geology.

C. M. Chow is a faculty member in EMU's Department of Psychology.

^S. Lally, R. Bessire, and J. Donnelly are EMU staff members.

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DOI: 10.3390/vaccines10081333