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Reaching late adopters: factors influencing COVID-19 vaccination of Marshallese and Hispanic adults.

Vincenzo JL, Spear MJ, Moore R, Purvis RS, Patton SK, Callaghan-Koru J, McElfish PA, Curran GM. Reaching late adopters: factors influencing COVID-19 vaccination of Marshallese and Hispanic adults. BMC public health. 2023 Apr 3; 23(1):631.

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BACKGROUND: Marshallese and Hispanic communities in the United States have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Identifying strategies to reach late vaccine adopters is critical for ongoing and future vaccination efforts. We utilized a community-engaged approach that leveraged an existing community-based participatory research collaborative of an academic healthcare organization and Marshallese and Hispanic faith-based organizations (FBO) to host vaccination events. METHODS: Bilingual Marshallese and Hispanic study staff conducted informal interviews with 55 participants during the 15-minute post-vaccination observation period and formal semi-structured interviews with Marshallese (n? = 5) and Hispanic (n? = 4) adults post-event to assess the implementation of community vaccine events at FBOs, with a focus on factors associated with the decision to attend and be vaccinated. Formal interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic template coding categorized with the socio-ecological model (SEM). Informal interview notes were coded via rapid content analysis and used for data triangulation. RESULTS: Participants discussed similar factors influencing attitudes and behaviors toward receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Themes included: (1) intrapersonal - myths and misconceptions, (2) interpersonal - protecting family and family decision-making, (3) community - trust of community location of events and influence of FBO members and leaders, (4) institutional - trust in a healthcare organization and bilingual staff, and (5) policy. Participants noted the advantages of vaccination delivery at FBOs, contributing to their decision to attend and get vaccinated. CONCLUSIONS: The following strategies may improve vaccine-related attitudes and behaviors of Marshallese and Hispanic communities not only for the COVID-19 vaccine but also for other preventive vaccinations: 1) interpersonal-level - develop culturally-focused vaccine campaigns targeting the family units, 2) community-level - host vaccination events at convenient and/or trusted locations, such as FBOs, and engage community and/or FBO formal or lay leaders as vaccine ambassadors or champions, and 3) institutional-level - foster trust and a long-term relationship with the healthcare organization and provide bilingual staff at vaccination events. Future research would be beneficial to investigate the effects of replicating these strategies to support vaccine uptake among Marshallese and Hispanic communities.

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