This article was published on February 16th, 2021
Now that vaccinations are underway across the world to address the COVID-19 pandemic, there are new issues to address as distribution ramps up across countries. Although the majority of those that have access to vaccination are eager to receive it, new research indicates there may be some reluctance among LGBTQ+ people.
Rarely are there surveys that directly look into statistics for the LGBTQ+ community, but the findings indicate that there is ambivalence on taking the vaccine. It also supports the notion that sexual orientation and gender identity should be better represented in future research in order to better serve the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
“If LGBTQ people are not identified in data collection, we cannot be seen by public health agencies, hospital systems and other health care organizations,” said Mardi Moore, executive director of Out Boulder County, which provides advocacy, services, programs and support to Boulder County’s LGBTQ communities. “If they don’t see us, we don’t exist, and getting resources allocated to us is nearly impossible. Sexual orientation and gender identity have to be part of the data that health organizations collect,” she added.
COVID-19 vaccination reluctance is an issue health organizations, including the CDC and the World Health Organization have stressed that a significant amount of people must be vaccinated in order to reach community immunity. As such, every demographic must participate in the process, and if the more people that are distrustful of the government and health care systems, the harder it will be to reach the threshold and return to normal life.
Studies in America have examined the reluctance and anxiety amongst people of color and LGBTQ+ people – those that meet at the intersectionality of these two are even at greater risk and the CDC notes that these disparities must be addressed so that health care services can be provided to everyone that needs care.
Once the results are broken down, it is apparent that those that regularly receive flu vaccines are more likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Those that never receive the flu shot, however, are far less likely to get vaccinated. Some of the reasons listed by those that prefer not to receive the shot include safety concerns, requiring more information, efficacy rates, and a general distrust of the government.
HIV-Positive People Have Concerns
Further research also showed that HIV-positive people may have more questions concerning how the vaccine might work for them. Many of those asked in the surveys are demanding more data on vaccination testing on those that are HIV-positive, but so far, little information is available and this is resulting in fear for those that have questions about how the vaccine potentially interacts with HIV medications.
Another pressing issue for the LGBTQ+ community is how COVID-19 can impact them if they suffer from pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or HIV that can make them more vulnerable to severe effects if they contract the corona virus. Another troubling aspect of the research indicates that LGBTQ+ people are less likely get the medical care they need due to discrimination, the price, or lack of access.
The data makes it clear that expansive outreach and communication with the LGBTQ+ community must be executed in order to serve members better and more effectively. Options include campaigns that directly target LGBTQ+ people, health care professionals discussing vaccinations with patients, and distributing the vaccine in areas that have significant queer communities. The challenges are many, yet the mission currently is to ensure that LGBTQ+ people are included in vaccine distribution and the country can achieve herd community at a faster rate.