Why are our homeless neighbors more likely to reject a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 has been 50% more fatal for our homeless neighbors,
but new research from the Homeless Research Data Collaborative shows many people experiencing homelessness still have a greater fear of vaccine side effects than of the virus itself.
At a Glance
LA's homeless residents are among those most in need of a COVID-19 vaccine, but high rates of reluctance make reaching them even more challenging.
A new study using a first-of-its-kind research platform has uncovered a need for targeted education to overcome fears and a general lack of information as LA works to vaccinate its most at-risk residents.
The Homeless Research Data Collaborative was launched to connect Lived Expertise and Data to better understand the stories of our homeless neighbors.
Our team designed a first-of-its-kind platform to build reciprocal relationships with people experiencing homelessness and understand their lived experience via monthly online surveys.
This approach allows us to understand the complex needs and lived experiences of people who communities and systems have failed. By understanding the lives of actual people, in real time, we can identify patterns and pinpoint barriers—and rapidly mobilize solutions.
Our First Study
Partnered with Venice Family Clinic to connect with people experiencing homelessness
Enrolled 90 individuals for a six-month cohort study
Established 75% retention through inclusive survey design and engagement methods
What We Found
of respondents expressed some level of vaccine hesitancy based either on actual vaccine offers (19%) or a hypothetical question (81%).
Fears and precautions don't necessarily go hand in hand:
Those who most frequently practiced COVID-19 protective behaviors, like wearing masks and social distancing, were more likely to feel hesitant to accept a vaccine.
Information sources play a key role in vaccine acceptance:
Those who trusted official sources on COVID and vaccine information were less hesitant to accept a vaccine, while those who trusted friends and family for COVID-19 information were more likely to be hesitant.
What can we do with these insights?
Given the physical health, mental health, and social isolation challenges that PEH often faces, vaccination efforts must account for possible fears and needs for quality information before offering individuals a vaccine.
Utilize Information Networks:
The vaccine-hesitant are less likely to accept information on the vaccine from official sources, but more likely to accept it from friends and family. Utilizing social networks and informal communication to share quality information can boost acceptance.
People experiencing homelessness in our community need specific educational and social influence interventions to accept this life-saving vaccine. Educators and providers need to account for the unique challenges that PEH face in everyday life.