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SEATTLE — A study released last Thursday by the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) says 75 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives are willing to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. The reason for the high receptance is 74 percent of those surveyed said they view getting the vaccination as their responsibility to their community.

The study was conducted to collect information on American Indian and Alaska Native peoples’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about the Covid-19 vaccine. The study involved a survey given to 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 encountered in accessing healthcare and resources.

“This data will be important to all organizations conducting Covid-19 vaccine education efforts,” Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of UIHI said. “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.

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

While there has been worry about vaccine participation in Native communities, 75 percent 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 percent of the U.S. general population was willing to receive a vaccine.

Echo-Hawk said the intention of the survey and study is 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 percent of participants were willing to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • 74 percent of participants claimed that getting vaccinated is their responsibility to their community.
  • 72 percent of participants wanted evidence that the vaccine is safe right now and in the long term.
  • 39 percent 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 percent of participants willing to get vaccinated had concerns about potential side effects.
  • 25 percent of participants were unwilling to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • 90 percent of participants unwilling to get vaccinated recognized Covid-19 as a serious disease.
  • 89 percent of participants unwilling to get vaccinated had concerns about potential side effects.

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from RxDestroyer, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the American Dental Association. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online. 
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