#ItsOurShot to Address Vaccine Hesitancy

Mar 02, 2021

By Edie Stringfellow, Senior Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, MassBio

According to the CDC, Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American people are roughly four times more likely to be hospitalized and nearly three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than white people.

But current vaccination rates don’t come close to addressing this disparity: of individuals who have received two doses of the vaccine, just 8% are Hispanic/Latino, 6% are Black, and 2% are Native American – compared to 67% who are white.

Although vaccine accessibility, distribution, and data collection are contributing factors, many individuals don’t plan to get the vaccine because of safety and efficacy concerns. Systemic racism, institutional oppression, and a lack of diversity in medicine, biomedical research, public health, and the government have contributed to mistrust in communities of color. While disparities existed long before COVID-19, the pandemic has magnified them, leading to broad vaccine hesitancy at a critical juncture as new variants emerge.

The biotech industry must play a bigger role in combatting COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. While the industry made strides recently with racial diversity in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, the work can’t stop there. It’s on us to help build trust with communities of color so they are comfortable and confident with getting vaccinated.

That is why MassBio is launching the #ItsOurShot social media campaign to counter COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and create a platform for life sciences leaders of color – some of whom played a key role in the development of the vaccines – to share why they plan to get vaccinated with their personal social networks. We know that people are more likely to trust information from people they know, so our goal is to get life sciences leaders of color to help spread factual vaccine information in a relatable way.

We’re calling on all life sciences companies and their employees to get involved in the #ItsOurShot campaign. From drug developers and academic institutions to business leaders and public officials, everyone has an important perspective to contribute. This is an important opportunity to highlight not only the ethnic and racial diversity within our industry but also the different roles and career paths within the life sciences. Representation matters and showing the diversity of our workforce across social networks can play a role in “bending the information curve” if vaccine-hesitant Black/Brown and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) see and hear from more life sciences employees who look like them.

To participate in #ItsOurShot as an individual or to share this information with your employees, check out our campaign toolkit.

To learn more about the campaign, please email our team at diversity@massbio.org.

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