Brief Report: Perspectives of Foster Care Alumni on COVID-19 Vaccination: Key Findings and a Call to Action
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The United States recently surpassed 32 million cases and 570 thousand deaths due to COVID-19. Vaccination of the general population is critical to ending the pandemic, and several highly effective vaccines have now received emergency FDA approval. Young adults are a key group to target for vaccination, as they may be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 and unknowingly spread the virus to others. However, recent research suggests that young adults have concerns about COVID-19 vaccination, particularly if they belong to racial and ethnic minority groups or other marginalized populations. Young people with foster care backgrounds are predominantly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), and their hesitancy toward COVID-19 vaccination may be exacerbated by public systems mistrust and ineffective messaging channels. To better understand vaccination attitudes among this population, we conducted focus groups and individual interviews with 23 young people ages 18 to 26 who had recently aged out of foster care. All young people in our sample were parents of young children; thus, their attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination have relevance for their own as well as their children’s likelihood of getting vaccinated. As part of this project, participants described their attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination and their reasoning for either accepting or declining a vaccine. Interview audio files were transcribed verbatim and rigorously analyzed using a structured approach to thematic analysis.