COVID-19 Vaccine Poll Reveals Trends in Access for Native Americans

LONGMONT, Colo (June 16, 2021)  –  Today, the African American Research Collaborative (AARC) and The Commonwealth Fund released findings from the just-completed 2021 American COVID-19 Vaccine Poll — an expansive poll designed to understand the barriers that prevent Americans from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) participated as a research partner to ensure Native American representation in the poll.

Longstanding inequalities motivated by federal neglect helped fuel COVID-19 spread in Native American communities. Many Native American communities did receive access to the COVID-19 vaccine, and many have engaged in successful vaccination programs in their communities. However, the survey revealed there is a significant Native American population that remains hesitant to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Native American responses to the American COVID-19 Vaccine Poll highlight the following findings:

  • 58% of Native American respondents reportedly received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. But, 45% of Native American respondents have yet to be vaccinated, and another 7% still need to get their second shot to reach full vaccination. The poll highlights there is a high degree of hesitancy among some Native Americans to receiving the vaccine. Of the nonvaccinated population, 43% indicated they do not plan to get the vaccine.
  • Among Native American respondents, socioeconomic factors such as not having enough time or not having transportation to get the vaccine were commonly cited reasons limiting vaccination.
  • One of the most cited reasons for vaccine hesitancy among Native American respondents was the presence of a medical reason making them ineligible to get vaccinated.

These findings highlight that to increase COVID-19 vaccinations in Native American communities, more attention must be paid to accommodating Native Americans who may have limited time because of multiple jobs, family and child responsibilities, or other community responsibilities. Also, since Native Americans tend to suffer from preexisting health disparities, including many COVID-19 comorbidity factors, more public education and outreach needs to be done to provide public health information about the safety of the vaccine related to preexisting conditions.

The poll did highlight several important factors that may help increase vaccination rates among those who are hesitant.

  • Native American respondents placed a great deal of confidence in certain kinds of messengers. Some of the most trusted messengers include tribal leaders, tribal government, and Native American doctors and nurses.
  • Messages that resonated most with unvaccinated individuals in terms of compelling them to get vaccinated include those connected to community safety, health and wellbeing and the protection of elders, culture and community. The survey indicated these community-centered and culturally relevant messages can be strong and powerful ways to encourage Native Americans to get vaccinated.

Michael Roberts, First Nations President and CEO, said First Nations was happy to partner on this study and thankful that the research team took time to adequately include a Native American oversample. “We know there is a long history of Indigenous erasure in data collection and data being weaponized to harm Native Americans,” Roberts said. “But this data does provide some helpful ways to increase Native American vaccination rates in very distinct ways for Native communities.”

The poll surveyed more than 13,000 people nationwide across race and gender lines, with large samples of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Whites, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and rural Americans. The poll included a total of 1,920 Native American respondents from across the United States.

To learn more about the survey findings and methodology, please visit

About First Nations Development Institute

For 40 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Amy Jakober, Senior Communications Officer