UTA study: Vaccination mistrust still widespread

School of Social Work examines COVID vaccination behaviors among expecting moms

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2024 • Neph Rivera : contact

Photo of Hui Huang, UTA associate professor of social work." _languageinserted="true

Four years after COVID-19 began to spread worldwide, a University of Texas at Arlington social worker says work still needs to be done to address the importance of getting vaccinated.

Research led by Hui Huang, associate professor in the School of Social Work, shows some apprehension remains among pregnant woman in getting vaccinated against the virus. The findings are published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Huang and her colleagues took an innovative approach in gathering feedback from pregnant women by partnering with the app Count the Kicks to analyze pregnancy survey results from women who had recently given birth. For the study, the team took a close look at responses regarding beliefs and behaviors related to COVID-19 vaccinations and found about two-thirds of respondents had been vaccinated.

“Previous studies focused on asking for patients’ willingness to get the vaccine but did not explore if they actually received it,” Huang said. “This was one innovative aspect of our work.”

In addition, the findings revealed no relationship between vaccination and birth outcome, reinforcing the scientific community’s belief that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for expecting moms.

When those who were not vaccinated were asked why, their primary concerns were safety of their unborn child, lack of trust in the vaccine and a concern over side effects. Results also revealed that vaccination rates are lower among African American mothers. Huang suspects, based on empirical evidence from other studies, that this is due to a feeling of distrust that some in the African American community have toward the medical system.

“They have historical trauma with the medical system due to unethical research and medical practice done to the community,” she said. “Another concern is social media misinformation. Those concerns could be among the reasons why minority groups are more hesitant to get vaccinated.”

Huang says a team effort is still needed to not just stress the importance of the vaccine and the fact that it is safe, but also to increase its accessibility in all communities.

“We need to get the information out there,” she said. “We can do this, for example, through public awareness campaigns engaging trusted spokespersons, especially those from minority populations who can demonstrate the vaccine is safe to take.”