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Case Study: The Critical Need for Multicultural Research

Key influencers for People of Color — Pastors — Reluctant to Endorse COVID Vaccinations

A Reuters article titled, “Some U.S. Black pastors, key players in COVID education, are hesitating to push vaccine” published in late 2020 highlights the express need for further research into COVID communications targeting minority populations. In the article Rev. A.R. Bernard who leads the Christian Cultural Center — the largest church in Brooklyn — explained his reluctance to endorse the vaccinations: “He worried some members of his congregation could view his participation as ‘joining forces with the system’ to use African Americans ‘as guinea pigs’ for vaccines that have been developed in record time.”

He is not alone. Reuters interviewed a dozen Black pastors and heard the same reluctance. While African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to die from COVID than white Americans, according to the CDC, only 49% of Black Americans would be interested in taking the vaccine, compared to 63% of white Americans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. The author goes on to further explain that, “[this] distrust is rooted in decades of unequal healthcare access and treatment, under-representation in clinical trials and a record of being used as unwitting test subjects, such as in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study that continued through 1972 and withheld syphilis treatment from infected Black men without their knowledge.

Pastors said this history has fed fears that the COVID-19 vaccine may not work in Black Americans, or that they may be given a different shot than the rest of society.” In short, clergy members serving minority populations are fully aware of the complex history of testing on minority populations and they don’t want to lose the trust of their congregations by recommending vaccines that are not fully proven, especially with minorities.

This disconnect between communities of Color and public health policies represents a crucial need for culturally-sensitive, people-focused market research to better understand the reluctance of trusted influencers in the African American community who can honestly and sincerely help build confidence in COVID-19 vaccination. In this way, multicultural research is not just a tool for greater population representation, but a critical piece of the puzzle in the quest to save lives, give greater clarity to the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on communities of color, and ultimately stop the pandemic in its tracks.

At Ebony Marketing Systems, we are experts at designing and conducting multicultural research that meets the unique needs of the communities you serve. For more information, call us at (718) 742-0006 or send us a message today.


  1. Kenya says

    There is a need for representation & diversity in all research. I agree Healthcare would be an excellent place to begin to rebuild trust within communities of color.

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