CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new CDC study shows that LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to be vaccinated than heterosexual adults.
A team of researchers analyzed data from the National Immunization Survey Adult COVID Module and found that 85.4% of gay or lesbian adults reported getting at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October 2021 compared to 76.3% of heterosexual adults.
"Some gay people remember the last pandemic: AIDS, and they have personal experience and lived through that and have been waiting for a vaccine for the last 30 years, and that vaccine has never come," said UNC Public Health professor Dr. Noel Brewer, PhD., one of the authors on the study. "The idea of a vaccine that can kill an infectious disease that's killing millions of people, we're on board."
Brewer noted there were still some stark disparities among subcommunities in the LGBTQ+ population-most notably, while nearly 100% of white gay men were vaccinated, only about half of Black lesbian women had gotten at least one of their shots.
"It speaks to the power of intersectional identities," Brewer said. "And that is not just historical fact, it's also a current fact."
He added that the huge disparity between these two populations points to the immediate need for action to address healthcare access.
"It makes me feel like we've turned our back on an important part of our community," Brewer said.
Brewer pointed out that LGBTQ+ data is extremely lacking in general-particularly when it comes to the transgender community.
"Having systems that are keeping up to date with the needs of the population are really important. A lot of our systems are 50, 80 years old in their conceptualization and are missing some basic information," Brewer said. "There's also a sense that these data are embarrassing or taboo. The world has really moved on past that. Knowing that someone's gay is pretty much not a deal anymore."
He added that sexual identity and gender identity are often standard questions on surveys, and they should become standard questions in medical care. By collecting this data, he said, it allows public health researchers to understand where the need is in communities.
"The pandemic is not just one pandemic, it's 1,000 small pandemics spread all across the county," Brewer said. "A lot of this is geographic, but even within those geographies we have characteristics of people where the vaccination rates are low and that will perpetuate the pandemic."
He explained those characteristics could be political, religious or based on race, but it is important to understand those differences to meet needs and answer questions.
In addition to looking at sexual orientation, gender identity and race, the study also looked at household income and urbanicity.