One of the tragic ironies of the pandemic has been hesitancy among some Latinos to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Latinos are four times more likely to be hospitalized by the viral infection — and nearly three times more likely to be killed by it — than non-Latino whites. They are also more likely than non-Latinos to say someone in their household has lost a job, been placed on furlough or had their hours cut due to the pandemic.

Yet, Latinos were more likely to say they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine than non-Latino whites through much of 2020. That is until December, when the percentage of Latinos who said they would “definitely” or “probably” get the vaccine jumped from 60% in September to 71%.

Why the change of heart?

At least in part, because information released in late November and early December shows that Latinos were well represented in the phase 3 clinical trials vaccine developers conducted to test the efficacy and safety of the vaccines.

Specifically, Latinos accounted for 21% of the more than 37,000 people who volunteered for trials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 28% of the 30,000-plus who participated in trials of the Moderna vaccine. Those vaccines became the first two approved for use against COVID-19 in the United States in December.

The strong participation was no fluke. The COVID-19 Prevention Network launched by the federal government last year has made boosting enrollment of Latinos and other hard-hit groups in phase 3 clinical trials a top priority. Latinos made up less than 15% of the more than 300,000 people who participated in clinical trials for new drugs submitted for approval to the Food and Drug Administration from 2013 to 2015, according to one analysis.

"This is great news for the Latino community,” said Dr. Aram Alexanian, a Spanish-speaking family doctor with Novant Health Primary Care Gilead. “We know they are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 so it’s critical that the Latino community take full advantage of this safe and efficacious vaccine when supplies become available to the general public later this year.”

To learn more about clinical trials, including how to participate in them, or who participated in a trial for a recently approved drug, visit Minorities in Clinical Trials Fact Sheet.

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