UNM receives research grant to study vaccine hesitancy

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Researchers at the University of New Mexico received a $1.4 million grant last week to study vaccination hesitation.

Dr. Nina Wallerstein and Dr. Lisa Cacari-Stone will spend the next year looking into disparities when it comes to getting the vaccine, and how it’s related to people’s race, politics, and geographic location.

"And so these are communities that really do need support and messaging from trusted people in their communities, and our goal is to work with our community partners as assets,” Dr. Wallerstein said.

"This will be a one-year project. It includes over 200 organizations in a large statewide consortium that includes our tribes, state, local governments, nonprofits, philanthropical organizations,” added Dr. Cacari-Stone.

According to researchers, Hispanics make up 49 percent of the population, but less than 32 percent of them have been fully vaccinated.

"So we want to look at that. Is it a matter of pre-existing structural inequalities, and we’re taking a racial justice lens to the study,” Dr. Cacari-Stone said.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently announced the state will fully reopen when 60% of New Mexicans are vaccinated. So far, around 45% of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated.

"I think New Mexico is like every other state. We started doing very, very well, and now we’re encountering more pockets of communities that are worried about the vaccination, and they’ve had years where they couldn’t trust the federal government, couldn’t trust research or even medical institutions to serve them,” Dr. Wallerstein said.

UNM is working with 20 other research groups across the country.

They said they’ll share more information as it becomes available.