New Study Examines LGBTQ+ Adults’ Experiences with COVID-19 and Concerns About Vaccination

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has released a new report on LGBTQ+ adults’ trust and experiences regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines in the United States. Among the key findings:

    • "One in five LGBTQ+ adults undergoing hormone replacement therapy have concerns about how a COVID-19 vaccine could affect them and their therapy."

    • "32% of LGBTQ+ adults are concerned that a COVID-19 vaccine will negatively interact with their medication for treating or preventing HIV, regardless of their status. These concerns regarding HIV medication are especially heightened for Black (39%) and Latinx (34%) LGBTQ+ adults."

    • LGBTQ+ adults are much more likely to have a "great deal of confidence" in the research and development of COVID-19 vaccines than the general population (60% vs. 33%), but the results vary significantly based on race: 42% of Black LGBTQ+ adults and 53% of Latinx LGBTQ+ adults are confident in the process, compared to 67% of White LGBTQ+ adults, 63% of Asian LGBTQ+ adults, and 67% Native American LGBTQ+ adults.

    • "15% of LGBTQ+ adults said their correct name does not appear the same on all of their identity documents" and "40% of transgender adults did not have their correct name on all of their documents," which can create challenges when getting vaccinated ("68% of LGBTQ+ adults said they had to show a government-issued identification when they showed up to get their vaccine.")

    • 91% of LGBTQ+ adults are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the Delta variant (with no significant differences based on race, gender, education level, or sexual orientation), compared with only 72% of all adults

    • More LGBTQ+ adults reported having had COVID-19 than the general population (21% vs. 14%)

    • "91% of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed were fully vaccinated"

Among LGBTQ+ adults who are still unvaccinated, there were many reasons given:

  • 60% are concerned about being required to get the vaccine even if they don't want it

  • 60% are worried about severe side effects

  • 50% are concerned that the vaccines are not as safe as claimed to be

  • 43% are worried about minor side effects

  • 37% are concerned about missing work due to side effects

  • 28% are concerned about out-of-pocket expenses

  • 21% are afraid that the vaccines could impact their fertility

  • 20% are concerned about having to provide a social security number or government-issued ID to get vaccinated

  • 15% are worried about having to miss work to get vaccinated

  • 11% are worried about finding a trusted place to get vaccinated

  • 10% aren't sure they need the vaccine if they already had COVID-19

  • 9% have issues with travel related to getting vaccinated

  • 8% are worried that it could impact their own or a family member's immigrant status

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Flint Water Crisis Settlement

This week, Judge Judith Levy approved of a $626 million settlement for residents of Flint who were impacted by the water crisis. This begins the process to receive compensation for the more than 50,000 individuals and entities that opted in to participating in the settlement earlier this year. Judge Levy called the settlement fair and sensible and that going to trial would have been a long, arduous process and damages litigated would have been diminished. Participants of the settlement are tasked with filling out a claims form detailing their damages. This will decide where the settlement funds come from, as the funds are split into different buckets. Children 6 years or younger during the water crisis will receive the largest compensation amount because they were most vulnerable to injury from the water crisis. After attorney fees are awarded, the 6 years and younger fund will receive 64.5% of the settlement. Children 7-11 years of age will receive 10% of the funds, children 12-17 years of age will receive 5% , the adult fund will receive 15%, property owners and renters will receive 3% of the settlement, business owners will receive 0.5%, and programmatic relief will receive 2%. There will also be $35 million set aside for children under 18 who do not file their claims in time or who do not complete them. Although this is a step in helping those impacted, is it enough? The court received 106 objections to the settlement and others have spoken out saying that this is very little compared to the damages people have suffered in the water crisis.

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East Lansing City Council Elects First Black Mayor in its History

On Tuesday, Ron Bacon became the first Black mayor in East Lansing's history. East Lansing's mayor is elected by the City Council from among its members. Last week, Bacon and Dana Watson became the first Black people elected to the East Lansing City Council. Both were incumbents, but had been appointed to their prior terms, not elected. East Lansing has a "weak mayor" system, in which the City Council and City Manager (who is appointed by the City Council) hold political power, and the position of mayor has no formal authority. While the position is largely ceremonial, it still represents a significant moment in East Lansing's history, and the election of two Black council members is a historic change.

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Michigan in Fourth COVID-19 Surge

Despite reports by major news outlets that COVID-19 cases appear to be dropping in many parts of the country, cases in Michigan continue to rise. In a press conference this past Thursday, Dr. Nick Gilpin, Beaumont Health’s Director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology, stated that Michigan appears to be in a fourth COVID-19 surge. Infection rates in Michigan began slowly rising in August and in the last week have sharply increased, especially among youth 19 and younger. Gilpin voiced concern for the surge worsening in the coming months, and Michigan had more COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days than any other state in the U.S. (37,213). The increase in cases is in part contributed to colder weather bringing people closer together indoors and a general relaxation of social distancing by Michiganders. Low vaccination rates are also believed to be responsible, for example in Metro Detroit, which is 42% vaccinated and seeing rising case numbers. There is also concern that widespread staffing shortages at hospitals across the state could ultimately make managing a surge more challenging and/or deadly than before. Wearing masks, being vaccinated, and social distancing are critical to keeping case numbers down and staying safe.

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New Report on Health and Well-Being of American Indian and Alaska Native LGBT Adults

A new report from the Williams Institute looked at the experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native LGBT Adults in the United States. Among the findings:

    • "81% of AIAN LGBT adults reported having experienced everyday forms of discrimination in the prior year...57% reported experiencing physical or sexual assault at some point as an adult, and 81% reported experiencing verbal assault or abuse at some point as an adult."

    • "More AIAN LGBT adults reported feeling unsafe compared to their non-LGBT counterparts. Approximately 20% of AIAN LGBT adults said that they disagreed with the statement 'You always feel safe and secure,' compared to 14% of AIAN non-LGBT adults."

    • "Among all AIAN adults, more LGBT than non-LGBT people have been diagnosed with depression"

    • "An estimated 285,000 American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) LGBT adults live in the U.S."

    • "Approximately 6% of all AIAN-only adults identify as LGBT."

    • "Fifty-seven percent of AIAN-multiracial LGBT adults are under age 35, compared to 33% of non-LGBT adults.

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Racial Slurs Used Against East Lansing Athletes During Football Game

Parents and students from East Lansing High School (ELHS) have reported the repeated use of racial slurs and profanity from South Lyon High School (SLHS) athletes and fans during the Michigan High School Athletic Association football district championship game on November 5, which took place in South Lyon. Racially charged comments began when the ELHS team was kneeling during the national anthem and someone in the SLHS crowd yelled for the players to stand while using profane language. On the field, White athletes from the ELHS football team speaking with ELi shared that throughout the game they heard their Black teammates being called racial slurs while White players were called “race traitors” and other derogatory terms. Video recordings also show several incidences of ELHS players being hit in the head after a play had stopped. According to ELi, ELHS athletes felt the referees did not intervene as needed throughout the game. One Black parent said she felt unsafe walking to her car after the game and was concerned for the safety of her sons, who play on the team. Since the game, ELHS athletic director Nikki Norris has begun speaking to ELHS students about their experiences during the game and is conducting an investigation. Meanwhile, per Click on Detroit, South Lyon Community Schools said, in a statement, “At no point have concerns about the sportsmanship of our student athletes been raised by the East Lansing athletic director. These types of comments are not condoned, nor are they representative of students, staff, and community.” The statement also mentioned that the spectator who yelled during the national anthem was not a student or affiliated with South Lyon Community Schools. No further statements or plans for next steps have been made by either school by the time of this QM post.

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Texas Report Shows Unvaccinated People 20-40 Times More Likely to Die from COVID-19

A recent report from the Texas Department of State Health services found that unvaccinated people in Texas were 40 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people between January 15, 2021 to October 2021. The report also included a separate data analysis for September 4, 2021 to October 1, 2021, a time period which represents the prevalence of the Delta variant in the state. During this time period, researchers found that unvaccinated people were 20 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated people. When looking at unvaccinated people in their 40s during the September to October time period, the data shows that being unvaccinated resulted in being 55 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to vaccinated Texans in their 40s. For comparison, during this same time period, unvaccinated people 75 and older were 12 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated counterparts. Per the report, youth 12 to 17 years old show the greatest protective impact due to vaccination.

The researchers also looked at infection rates. Throughout the duration of the study, being unvaccinated meant being 45 times more likely to get infected, and 13 times more likely to get infected during the Delta surge, specifically.

The results of this study clearly show that vaccination works and is working well to protect people from getting sick and/or dying from COVID-19. The data also shows that vaccination still confers a protective effect against the Delta variant, which is known and has shown to be more infectious than previous variants. The results are significantly higher than similar analyses conducted in other parts of the country, and the larger differences may be due, in part, to Texas being among the worst states in the U.S. for COVID-19 response, with few people wearing masks or practicing social distancing, and a state government that is actively fighting against public health efforts.

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COVID-19 Vaccination Update for Children 5-11 Years Old

According to current data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received at least one dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Children in this age range became eligible to receive the vaccine on November 2nd, and while this is a strong start to vaccination efforts of those in this age group, many are concerned that this initial surge will not be sustained for long enough, and that COVID-19 vaccinations will plateau or drop off soon. In addition, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey (KFF), 30% of parents stated they would definitely not get the vaccine for their children in that age group. Some of the concerns parents had with vaccinating their children from the survey included concerns about long-term effects, taking time off to get their child vaccinated, getting the vaccine from an untrustworthy source, and concerns about paying out of pocket for the vaccine (which is a clear issue with miscommunication or misinformation, since all COVID-19 vaccines are currently free to those receiving them).

While it is still too early to tell, the initial surge is promising, especially with the holiday season coming up. Children under the age of 12 represent 14.4% of the total population in the United States, and getting enough of the overall population vaccinated to reach herd immunity will be impossible without them. If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine, please feel free to reach out to us!

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MSU Announces COVID-19 Restrictions for Spring Semester

On Monday, Michigan State University announced that it would continue COVID-19 restrictions during the spring semester. This includes requiring all in-person students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (with medical and religious exemptions). Anyone granted a medical or religious exemption must take part in the university's Early Detection Program or regular testing, and "Students with online-only exemptions cannot come to campus for any reason." Students with online-only exemptions will also have to re-apply for their exemption to continue receiving it. Face masks will be required in all indoor spaces on campus at the start of the semester.

MSU also suspended 16 students for failure to comply with COVID-19 rules, and more are currently going through the disciplinary process. MSU has nearly 49,695 students, so 16 students is a tiny number. Given MSU's consistent failure to provide adequate protections to faculty, staff, and students throughout the pandemic, and general reluctance to take appropriate protective actions related to COVID-19, there may be many more students who have broken the rules but have not faced discipline.

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This Week's QM Round-Up Contributors (in alphabetical order):

    • Vanessa Burnett (she/they) M.P.H; Health Equity Consultant, Michigan Public Health Institute

    • Alessandra Daskalakis (she/her/hers), B.A. Comparative Literature and B.S in Biology, third-year medical student

    • Wilfredo Flores (he/him/his), fifth-year PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric, M.A. Technical Communication

    • Grey L. Pierce (they/them); M.A., Cognitive Psychology; Chair, Power of We Consortium

    • Francis Yang (he/him/his), M.S.-Global Medicine, Third-year medical student