Methods: This study is part of the Arizona CEAL COVID Consortium (AC3), a statewide effort to address the urgent needs of the rapidly changing course of the COVID-19 pandemic in communities of color. A subset of focus group data was used for this present study. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit African American adults from two urban cities in a Southwest state. Data collection was conducted via zoom with focus groups lasting approximately 90-120 minutes. Sample questions were “What are some reasons why you and/or your family received the vaccine for COVID-19? and “Whom do you trust to learn about COVID-19?” Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for thematic analysis.
Results: Data were collected from 32 (N = 5 focus groups) African American adults ages 20 to 78. The mean age was 53 years (SD = 15.8). Participants were predominantly female (68%). Using grounded theory, motivating factors and culturally relevant sources of trusted information were the two themes that emerged from our analysis. Motivating factors for early vaccine adoption were recent death or illness of loved ones, proximity to a parent or their elders, commitment to work with the community, and having pre-existing conditions. Culturally relevant sources of trusted information contributing to vaccination were “people who look like me,” family members in health care, access to science-based information, and faith. Moreover, faith and science were identified as co-existing facilitators of vaccine uptake among African American participants in this study.
Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest that despite historical mistrust as a social determinant of health for African American communities, African Americans are deciding to get vaccinated. Specifically, this study highlights family, science, and faith as culturally relevant factors contributing to the motivation and trust of early vaccine adopters. The implications of this study suggest that culturally relevant factors need to be considered to promote vaccine confidence among African Americans and to advance health equity in research, messaging, and community education.