School of Medicine Publications and Presentations


COVID-19 Disparities and Vaccine Hesitancy in Black Americans: What Ethical Lessons Can Be Learned?

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This state of the art review focuses on bioethical questions and considerations from research findings and methodological issues, including design and recruitment of participants, in studies related to COVID-19 vaccine hesitation in Black individuals. Ethical concerns identified were applied to otolaryngology with recommendations for improving health inequities within subspecialties.

Data Sources

An internet search through PubMed, CINAHL, and socINDEX was conducted to identify articles on COVID-19 vaccine hesitation among the Black population between 2020 and 2021.

Review Methods

A systematic review approach was taken to search and analyze the research on this topic, which was coupled with expert analysis in identifying and classifying vital ethical considerations.


The most common COVID-19 vaccine hesitation factors were related to the development of the vaccine, mistrust toward government agencies, and misconceptions about safety and side effects. These findings raised bioethical concerns around mistrust of information, low health literacy, insufficient numbers of Black participants in medical research, and the unique positions of health professionals as trusted sources. These bioethical considerations can be applied in otolaryngology and other health-related areas to aid the public in making informed medical decisions regarding treatments, which may reduce health inequalities among Black Americans and other racial and ethnic minority groups.

Implications for Practice

Addressing ethical questions by decreasing mistrust, tailoring information for specific populations, increasing minority representation in research, and using health professionals as primary sources for communicating health information and recommendations may improve relationships with Black communities and increase acceptance of new knowledge and therapies such as COVID-19 vaccination.


© American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation 2021.

Publication Title

Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery



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