In December of 2020, we launched the Our-Vaccine campaign with funding from Kaiser Permanente to better understand BIPOC vaccine hesitancy and develop trust.
Using our empathy-based digital tools, we developed new insights on BIPOC attitudes, needs, and vulnerability to health related disinformation.
These insights enabled us to begin raising alerts in January 2021 that the conventional wisdom around BIPOC hesitancy was mistaking lack of access and eligibility for mistrust in the vaccine. Reporting out of our campaign contributed to the Biden Administration’s announcement in March that it was removing the age-eligibility criteria.
While we were working to improve trust and understanding in BIPOC communities, we uncovered and began to flag how vaccine mistrust was more deeply rooted in the White conservative community.
We also were able to identify how specific gaps in communication to pro-life faith voters had allowed for much higher hesitancy and permeation of disinformation than for other groups.
In all of this, malicious actors were not sitting still. Although BIPOC communities were more successfully rejecting COVID-19 disinformation, they were still being heavily targeted by increasingly successful vaccine disinformation efforts.
Earlier in the year, the top associated keyword for people looking for “get the vaccine” in Spanish was “Sputnik” (the Russian vaccine), 25% of RT.com’s traffic in America was in Spanish, and “Chloroquine” was one of the top COVID-related content categories being read by Black Americans.