The Relationship Between Intergenerational Trauma and Vaccine Hesitancy among Black People in the United States Open Access

Burnett, Jasmine (Fall 2021)

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Background & Significance. Although Black people in the United States are disproportionately more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 and more likely to ultimately succumb to it, they are, aside from the American Indian / Alaska Native (AIAN) population, the least vaccinated ethnoracial demographic. While a sizable chunk of the Black American population has been reluctant to get the vaccine at all, according to a Kricorian & Turner study, twice as many Black people were reluctant to get the vaccine first, which may indicate that something beyond mistrust of vaccines in and of themselves is informing this vaccine hesitancy (2021). Intergenerational trauma is the process in which traumatic experiences and their behavioural consequences are transmitted down ancestral lines. If a plausible connection between intergenerational trauma and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy can be found, the implications for improvement of Black health nationwide include and go beyond COVID-19 vaccination.

Methods. Google Scholar was the primary search engine used to find research studies on Black COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy as well as in-depth conceptualizations of intergenerational trauma. Research study bibliographies and GoodReads’ book recommendation generator were both utilized to find materials for this study. Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook were also looked through to search for trends in keywords and concepts shared by Black people online that were vaccine hesitant. For further social commentary to inform research procedures, Black hosted podcasts rooted in academia, social commentary, racial advocacy and activism, and science were all listened to for additional perspectives and considerations of vaccine hesitancy in Black Americans.

Results. In Black communities across the United States, the most notable medium of intergenerational trauma and trauma transmission were caregivers. Parents, aunties and uncles, and adult figures in the lives of Black children showed exceptionally large influence on the upbringing of subsequent generations. These tie into justifications given today for Black COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Most noted were mistreatment and inaccessibility, institutional mistrust, and the weathering hypothesis was also found as a potential biological reasoning.

Table of Contents

Statement of Purpose 1

Background 2

Significance 7

Methods 10

Results 13

Discussion 17

Limitations 25

Conclusion 27

Bibliography 28

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