restricted access Pandemics and Vaccines: Perceptions, Reactions, and Lessons Learned from Hard-to-Reach Latinos and the H1N1 Campaign

This paper examines knowledge, risk perception, and attitudes around the H1N1 pandemic among Latino hard-to-reach (HTR) populations in the United States. Ten focus groups were conducted throughout California (N=90), representing Latino immigrants disproportionately affected by H1N1: farmworkers, indigenous Mexicans, pregnant women, and children. Overall, participants were aware of the H1N1 epidemic and common prevention practices. However, many expressed doubts that the H1N1 outbreak constituted an epidemic because the U.S. media reports of the epidemic in Mexico did not match reports from participants’ families in Mexico and because of participants’ absence of personal experience with the disease. Participants mistrusted the H1N1 vaccine due to its novelty, conspiracy theories, and inconsistent information. Study findings confirm that vaccination campaign strategies should reflect the diversity of meaning, experiences, and socio-economic realities among target populations. Key findings inform future emergency response activities targeting HTR Latino communities.