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Medical mistrust, misinformation factor into Latino vaccine hesitancy, OSU study finds


CORVALLIS, Ore. (KTVZ) — Lack of trusted medical sources, traumatic past experiences with medical care and widespread misinformation have contributed to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Latino communities, a new Oregon State University study found.

In the qualitative study, which involved interviews with teens and parents, OSU researchers also learned that a desire to protect one’s family members is among the strongest motivators for getting vaccinated.

“Protecting the family should be at the center of promoting vaccines in communities that have collectivist values,” said Jonathan Garcia, author of the study and an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “The other big piece of vaccine promotion is that systems of engagement are necessary to dispel mistrust, and that means addressing historical trauma.”

As Latinos have experienced disproportionately high rates of COVID infections in Oregon, accounting for 27% of infections despite representing only 13.4% of the population at the time of the study, and as the pandemic has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, there is a greater need for nuanced, culturally competent messaging on vaccines, the researchers wrote.

The aim of the study, published Friday in the journal Health Education and Behavior, was to go beyond what yes-or-no surveys can explain about the reasons people choose to get vaccinated or not.

The study recruited Latino families from around Oregon who had children ages 13 and older in grades 9-12, and who self-identified as Latinx, Latino or Hispanic. In total, 22 mothers and 24 youths participated. Researchers conducted 90-minute interviews with the mothers, 60-minute interviews with the teens and follow-up conversations with the mothers.

Researchers found several common themes among those who had positive perceptions of the vaccine and among those who doubted its efficacy.

A major fear stemmed from the myth that the COVID vaccine causes sterilization. Several participants remembered similar fears about the HPV vaccine when it first came out.

This fear is heavily rooted in historical trauma, Garcia said, as there are cases of forced sterilization by the U.S. government, such as the allegations that emerged last year that medical personnel at an immigrant detention facility in Georgia had sterilized women without their consent.

To overcome those fears and promote vaccination, Garcia said, medical providers must acknowledge past traumas.

“We can’t relay dry facts without addressing the history of trauma and discrimination that lead people to mistrust medical systems,” he said. “The system is at fault for vaccine hesitancy. It’s not about being stubborn, or people not knowing enough; it’s that the system hasn’t addressed these historical traumas sufficiently and hasn’t engaged sufficiently with their cultures.

“If you just give dry facts, the dry facts are going to be overshadowed by this historical trauma.”

Clearer communication on the timing of the vaccine rollout was also needed, the study found. When health care leaders discussed moving Latinos to the front of the line due to heightened risk factors such as workplace exposure and underlying conditions, some in the community felt they were being treated as the “guinea pigs.”

On the other side of the spectrum, the study found that vaccine promotion that appealed to “familismo,” the idea that family wellbeing is a central factor in decision-making, made a positive impact on Latino parents and youth who see vaccines as a way to protect vulnerable family members.

Many viewed vaccination as a path back to full employment, and as such, a way to avoid using public services and becoming a “public charge,” a legal distinction that, until recently, could be used against immigrants in applications for legal residency.

Familismo also played into intergenerational communication. Teen participants were often called upon to dispel conspiracy theories their parents heard about through social media and kept their parents updated on the latest news.

The researchers said these interviews helped point out which questions to ask in more quantitative studies moving forward.

“The usefulness of a study like this is that it allows us to understand the complexities that arise from lived experience,” Garcia said.

His co-author was Nancy Vargas, a doctoral student in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

KTVZ news sources



  1. So why are highly qualified doctors and nurses who have been treating people with Covid for months refusing the vaccines that are not really vaccines? People who have carefully studied Covid for a long time and read all the studies. Why are they refusing them? The ones I know do not care for Trump so it’s not because of Trump. In fact, they were quite upset that Trump rushed the release of the vaccines without long-term testing. Then even big Biden supporters like LeBron James are not endorsing the vaccines or the mandates. Why is this? Maybe, just maybe these people know something that the mainstream groups do not want you to know? As for me, my decision is firm and not based on what any public figure has said or not said. I also judge people by their actions. When Biden states that Covid is a big issue and makes mandates that will take people’s livelihood away, but then appears at a baseball game and gets right in the face of people without anyone wearing a mask I know what he really thinks about Covid. Biden is mandating one thing for the people and then showing you what he really believes by his actions at that ballgame.

    1. Because we know what the risk vs reward ratio is of getting the “vaccine” and we refuse to allow ourselves to be a test subject as well. Most people willfully choose the comfortable lie over the uncomfortable truth, so trying to explain the science to someone fully entrusted in the media is futile. Therefore, we protect our own and wish the rest of you the absolute best.

      1. I’m not sure which side of the fence you’re on. Your post is ambiguous. Regardless of how you intended your post I for one feel the previous post regarding doctors and nurses refusing the vaccine is misrepresented. Yes there are a few who refuse the vaccine. But it is minuscule. The science supports getting vaccinated. No if ands or buts about it. And like the flu we may need boosters. I personally do not want to work with anyone who thinks otherwise. Their sources are unreliable. Period. This division over vaccines is unwarranted. We just lost a friend to covid because of vaccine hesitancy. Yes she had underlying conditions. But nothing that would have killed her except COVID. It’s real. It kills and it doesn’t care who you are.

        1. Who says they’re highly qualified? Medicine is a science. If they don’t follow the science are obviously not highly qualified. Ask an anesthesiologist or a pulmonologist about covid. That’s your highly qualified doctor. Find me one that doesn’t follow the science. Just one

      1. Why did Biden-Harris- and Pelosi condemn Trump’s vaccine for months before the election ? Why do you believe every living President- their staff- the whole of the Governors have received an injection of something more that vitamin B12 and zinc ?? Because CNN says so ??? Oh My !

  2. Talk about mis-information . . . Science says natural immunity is the best course . . . ya’ll claim that you still need the vaccine. Ya’ll admit that the vaccine doesn’t stop the virus or stop transmission of the virus, but you push the vaccine. Ya’ll hide the numbers of break throughs resulting in death and you hide the numbers of people that die FROM the vaccine, as well as those that end up with life-long illness’ directly because of the vaccine . . . yet you demand everyone take the vaccine. Ya’ll admit the death rate is extremely low, yet you demand everyone take the vaccine. Science tell us that there are therapeutics that will keep someone infected from the virus from dying . . . yet you deny the use of those therapeutics to patients.

      1. Do you have a link that shows proven large numbers of deaths in Oregon- solely from this virus ? My last count sits at 74 over 18 months. And that definition comes from the CDC and OHA- pretty reputable organizations.

    1. You are correct ! The number of “adverse reactions” related to the vaccines including death- paralysis- kidney and organ failure are well over 1.7 million and climbing. It is extremely irresponsible not to inform the public of this information- yet- here we are.

        1. “Manipulated” ??? Medical professionals are not “manipulating” anything- they are reporting “adverse reactions among healthy Americans within days to weeks of receiving vaccines that have never gone under a single long term study.

  3. We all see how the writers completely ignore the details of this accusation- “widespread misinformation”. seems media outlets have been the biggest instigator- having politicized the virus from day one… Just because a very popular President told lazy goof off free-loaders to get off their sofas and get productive ! Now look at the disaster that is the Joey and Hunter Biden administration !

  4. Speaking of misinformation- “Fauci said that COVID was going to feast on college football fans because of the no masks, because of the full stadiums and he’s 100% wrong,” he said. “Fauci was wrong again.”… According to Travis, coronavirus cases have recently “plummeted” throughout the south, down nearly 60% in Florida…. Fauci is one of those exhalted experts often quoted around here- he must resign- today !

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