Report shows Native Americans' perspectives on COVID-19 vaccine


First ever national data will inform vaccine education efforts

Seattle, Wash.— Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) released a study with the first ever national data regarding American Indian and Alaska Native peoples’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about a COVID-19 vaccine.

The study surveyed American Indians and Alaska Natives across 46 states — representing 318 different tribal affiliations — to gather information ranging from individuals’ willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to the hurdles they face in accessing healthcare and resources.

“This data will be important to all organizations conducting COVID-19 vaccine education efforts,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of UIHI. “Native communities have unique challenges and needs that usually are not considered in public health campaigns.”

American Indian and Alaska Native people continue to be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 incidence and mortality rates are 3.5 and 1.8 times that of non-Hispanic Whites, respectively.

While there has been worry about vaccine participation in Native communities, 75% of study participants claimed they would be willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, higher than the national average according to an Ipsos survey from October 2020, which indicates that 64% of the U.S. general population was willing to receive a vaccine.

“Willingness to receive a vaccine and hesitancy are not mutually exclusive,” said Echo-Hawk. “Fear and distrust of government and medical systems still exists in our community, which are hurdles that we have to overcome.”

Echo-Hawk hopes the report can start to create a better understanding of the unique perspectives of Native people.

“The data indicates that most Native people willing to be vaccinated feel it is their responsibility for the health of their community,” Echo-Hawk said. “This shows what motivates our community when it comes to decision-making.”

Report key findings:

75% of participants were willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
74% of participants claimed that getting vaccinated is their responsibility to their community.
72% of participants wanted evidence that the vaccine is safe right now and in the long term.
39% of all participants reported difficulty traveling to their clinic for an appointment.
Two-thirds of participants willing to get vaccinated were confident that COVID-19 vaccines were adequately tested for safety and effectiveness among Native people.
75% of participants willing to get vaccinated had concerns about potential side effects.
25% of participants were unwilling to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
90% of participants unwilling to get vaccinated recognized COVID-19 as a serious disease.
89% of participants unwilling to get vaccinated had concerns about potential side effects.

Link to report:

About Urban Indian Health Institute

Urban Indian Health Institute is a Public Health Authority and one of 12 Tribal Epidemiology Centers in the country. It conducts research and evaluation, collects and analyzes data, and provides disease surveillance and resources to strengthen the health of American Indian and Alaska Native communities.