Study Shows High Rate of COVID Vaccination in the LGBTQ+ Community

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday August 17, 2021

A new study by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Community Marketing & Insights suggests that as much as 92% of the LGBTQ+ community has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The data on LGBTQ+ vaccination rates is part of the 15th Annual LGBTQ Community Survey, released on Aug. 12 and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The survey noted that "the vast majority of LGBTQ participants reported having received at least one vaccination for COVID-19."

The survey cited "many reasons" for the results, including "higher percentages of the LGBTQ population being liberal, living in blue states, and living in urban areas."

The report also noted that LGBTQ+ people "may have had more experience with medical science through education, workplaces, or other personal medical concerns."

Moreover, "COVID isolation significantly impacted LGBTQ people, which may have motivated quick vaccination to reenter the community."

The high vaccination rate results come despite other indications that LGBTQ+ people — particularly Black LGBTQ+ people — may have more reluctance regarding medical issues.

The New York Times noted that despite that fact that research "has shown that sexual and gender minorities, and especially people of color, are more vulnerable to becoming infected with the coronavirus and also more likely to have underlying conditions that could make them severely ill if they were to contract Covid-19," it remains the case that LGBTQ+ people are "also hesitant to take the vaccine" as a result of having experienced discrimination from health care providers.

The Times cited information from a study by the Williams Institute from earlier this year that showed "L.G.B.T. people of color were twice as likely as white non-L.G.B.T. people to test positive for Covid-19." Also, it cited a study published in the journal Vaccines that looked at how "1,350 men and transgender women who predominantly identified as gay or bisexual reported how likely they would be to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

"The Black participants expressed significantly more vaccine hesitancy than their white peers, the study found," noted the Times.

Anthony Fortenberry, of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, told the Times, "There's an overarching mistrust around vaccination," a fact that was confirmed by Brooklyn resident Erica Tyler, a 68-year-old Black woman and member of the LGBTQ+ community living with diabetes and high blood pressure — comorbidities placing her more at risk of serious medical complications if she should become infected with the coronavirus.

Tyler "described feeling unsettled by the push to vaccinate minorities, especially given how Black people have been underserved or mistreated by the medical establishment in the past," the Times noted.

Tyler told the newspaper that she "felt that they were trying to storm people who they wanted to eliminate out of society" — in particular, "the elderly and the Black people."

That trend was reflected in the results of the HRC Foundation survey, which showed a slightly lower percentage of vaccination among Black LGBTQ+ people — though the vaccination rate there remained high, at 85%.

"We are encouraged to see evidence that suggests such a strong majority of the LGBTQ+ community who responded to the survey have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine," the HRC Foundation stated.

"The science is clear: vaccines are our way forward and out of this pandemic."

In carrying out the study, Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) relied on "partnerships with over 100 LGBTQ media, events, and organizations" for its survey results.

CMI cautioned in the study's preface that "we do not profess that the results are representative of the 'entire LGBTQ community.' Instead, readers of this report should view results as a market study on LGBTQ community members who interact with LGBTQ media and organizations."

The new study follows other HRC Foundation reports regarding COVID-19 and the LGBTQ+ community, including "COVID-19 and the LGBTQ Community: Vaccinations and the Economic Toll of the Pandemic," as well as "For Ourselves, For Each Other: Getting to the Other Side of the Pandemic".

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.