Black Americans stand out from other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. for their high levels of concern about the coronavirus pandemic, with 81% considering the outbreak a major threat to public health and about half (49%) seeing it as a major threat to their personal health, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in February.
About a third of Black adults (35%) are very concerned that they themselves will get the coronavirus and require hospitalization, and another 29% are at least somewhat concerned about this possibility.
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Black life expectancy has fallen 2.7 years from pre-pandemic levels, compared with one year for the overall population – a stark reminder of the virus’s disproportionate impact on Black Americans.How we did this
The Center survey finds 78% of Black adults personally know someone who has been hospitalized or who died as a result of having COVID-19.
Black Americans also stand out from other groups for their concern about spreading the disease. About four-in-ten say they are very concerned about unknowingly spreading the disease to others, and 94% say they have taken the precaution of wearing masks or other face coverings at stores or businesses all or most of the time over the past month. At least seven-in-ten Black Americans consider a range of restrictions on public activity necessary, including limiting restaurants to carry-out service and closing K-12 schools to in-person learning.
While Black Americans are more concerned about many aspects of the outbreak, a smaller majority (61%) say they will definitely or probably get a COVID-19 vaccine, including 15% who already have, compared with 69% of White adults, 70% of Hispanic adults and 91% of Asian adults. (The survey was conducted with English-speaking Asian Americans only.)
As with the overall U.S. adult population, older Black adults are more inclined than younger adults to say they have gotten a coronavirus vaccine or that they will. And among Black adults, men are more inclined than women to get a coronavirus vaccine, a pattern also seen in the general population.
Black adults express less confidence in the coronavirus vaccine research and development process – a judgment closely aligned with intent to get vaccinated. Among the 34% of Black Americans with low trust in the vaccine R&D process, just 26% say they will get a vaccine or have already done so; 72% say they will not.
In addition to concerns about the vaccine development process, the potential for side effects looms large among those disinclined to get a coronavirus vaccine.
Among the 37% of Black Americans who say they will not get a coronavirus vaccine, 84% cite concern about side effects from the new vaccines as a major reason, while 74% say a major reason is that the vaccines were developed and tested too quickly. Another 71% of this group cite their desire to know more about how well they work. Half of Black Americans who do not intend to get a vaccine say a major reason is that they have seen too many mistakes from the medical care system in the past.