January 20, 2022 (Toronto) – More than one third (36 per cent) of GTA 2SLGBTQ+ homeless youth are unsure about or are not planning to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to newly published study in the journal BMC Public Health. Lack of vaccine confidence is even higher among racialized 2SLGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. Participants who identified as Indigenous, Asian, Black, Latinx and mixed background were almost five times as likely to be hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Mistrust in the healthcare system, previous traumatic experiences engaging with healthcare providers, barriers accessing the vaccine, and ongoing mental health issues were among the reasons cited by study participants for not getting vaccinated.
In the context of engaging with service providers, one study participant stated, “Homeless people are almost never viewed as actual human beings. We are almost always viewed as subhuman.” Due to this mistrust, youth discussed their fears of being experimented on with the vaccine. Another participant added, “I didn’t want to be the first guinea pig.”
“2SLGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness face many compounding layers of discrimination and disadvantage and are more at risk of being infected with COVID-19,” said lead author Dr. Alex Abramovich, Independent Scientist with the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). “Therefore, there is an ethical responsibility and urgent public health need to prioritize vaccinations for this population as one of the many critical measures needed to address the health inequities they are facing during the pandemic, and will continue to face afterwards.”