PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Despite shifts among BIPOC Oregonians in vaccine hesitancy, a new state-wide study suggests communities of color remain disproportionately affected by this pandemic.
Over a year after Oregon’s first confirmed COVID case, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center surveyed 1,154 Oregonians from August 9-17, 2021 on COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic on their communities.
The poll suggest a growing number of vaccine hesitant Oregonians are now changing their minds with one in six residents stating they were initially hesitant, but have now received the vaccine or plan to do so.
Also on the rise was the popularity of vaccine mandates, with 70% of Oregonians reporting they support allowing vaccine mandates for medical facilities and over 50% saying they support employee and customer vaccine mandates for businesses.
Interestingly, the major report of the study was the discrepancies between how the pandemic has impacted communities of color in comparison with white Oregonians.
The study found BIPOC Oregonians were among the most likely to change their stance on vaccines, with 24% of those originally hesitant reporting they have since received a dose or are planning to.
Though the study suggests five out of every six Oregonians reported being impacted by the pandemic, BIPOC residents were 10% more likely than white Oregonians to report the pandemic dramatically impacted their physical and emotional well-being.
“Because of all kinds of systems that are in place, BIPOC Oregonians are like the canaries in the coal mine,” said Amaury Vogel, the Associate Executive Director with the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center. “Anything that impacts Oregonians is going to impact those communities likely more and more quickly.”
Vogel cites an increased risk of chronic health conditions, wage distribution inequalities, and other inequities as potential factors contributing to the increased impact of COVID-19 on BIPOC community members.
Despite the decrease in vaccine hesitancy among BIPOC residents, the study shows some lingering uncertainty, with a third of the BIPOC study participants characterizing COVID-19 as a fiction, concept, or belief rather than a fact.
“Their uncertainty level is significantly higher, and that makes sense for a lot of reasons,” Vogel told KOIN 6 News. “The medical community has really jeopardized the trust of BIPOC communities throughout history.”
According to the study, those who identified as BIPOC remained more hesitant to vaccinate their children and less likely to support vaccine mandates.
Vogel told KOIN 6 News the study was done prior to the FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID vaccine and answers given by subjects may have changed since the conduction of the poll.