A new survey, released today, shows a large percentage of Massachusetts residents plan to take COVID-19 vaccines. There are good reasons for optimism about vaccine use. However there is a great disparity between the socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds in reluctance as they decide to take it with Black and Latinx residents – the most at risk of the disease — most reluctant.

“We are at an exciting moment in our battle against COVID-19 with a multitude of vaccines in development that offer promising results. Now, as we face the push for distribution, this poll has affirmed the importance of building confidence in the science and celebrating the technological advancements that have made way for rapid, safe, and effective vaccines,” said Tim Ritchie, President of the Museum of Science. “The weeks and months ahead will offer one of the biggest tests, and opportunities, we have faced in science communication and the results of this poll help us shape our approach.”

The poll shows greater hesitancy among Black and Latinx residents to take the vaccine early. The results show a need to demonstrate transparency in the development process and safety of the vaccine itself early in the distribution phases among doctors and other healthcare workers. The biggest source of concern is fear that a COVID-19 vaccine has not been thoroughly tested. Faith community, elected officials and other local leaders can help facilitate communication around this issue.

The findings of the polls have contributed to the discovery of a collection of resources for the wider health and research community by the Museum of Science and Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. The museum and league identified the following goals:

The larger science community can build trust with the public by sharing as much as possible on the development of vaccines. Paired with medical experts’ testimony, information on the technological breakthroughs that make rapid vaccine development safe, effective, and possible, will build confidence in the science.
As the most trusted voice in vaccine information according to respondents, doctors have an opportunity to communicate their vaccine experience to their patients to build trust in the process.
Elected officials, faith leaders, community groups, and healthcare organizations should convene the public early and often – with local doctors and other healthcare experts educating on the vaccine’s safety and larger community benefits for vaccination.
Health practitioners and health centers can help identify individuals most likely not to have a personal physician and, if possible, create this relationship. This will both decrease their concerns and increase the likelihood they will take a vaccine.