AbstractCOVID-19 research conducted in the pre-vaccine era indicates strong hesitancy toward vaccination among African Americans. Recent research has found growing acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination in the general US population. This study investigated vaccination intentions in Black communities and explored behavioral mechanisms involved in vaccination decisions. It focused on individuals’ risk perception in the face of a double hazard relating to the coronavirus disease and the vaccine. Using data from a national survey of 547 African Americans in January 2021, the results demonstrate considerable lingering vaccine hesitancy among African Americans. A survey experiment applied fear appeals to raise risk perceptions of threats from (1) the coronavirus, (2) the COVID-19 vaccine, or (3) both the disease and the vaccine. The findings show null effects of the treatments on individuals’ intentions to get a vaccine. However, when incorporating efficacy beliefs about the COVID-19 vaccine, the analysis found a positive effect of perceived vaccine efficacy on vaccination intentions. The study concludes that future research and practice need to replace fear appeals with efficacy-raising regimes, and identifies strategies that can be adopted in communicating and engaging with Black communities to promote COVID-19 vaccination.Practical ApplicationsAmid the COVID-19 pandemic and other prolonged crises, it is critical for public authorities to remain flexible and to time managerial and policy interventions with shifting public demands and emotions at distinct phases of the crisis cycle. In the later stages, fear appeals need to be replaced with efficacy-raising regimes to counter negative emotions and capitalize on people’s yearning for significant changes. Risk communication should empathize with the concerned individuals, avoid direct efforts to correct misinformation, highlight the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, and tailor messages to specific subpopulations. Community engagement needs to occur on a variety of channels to reach people where they are, and should identify and mobilize trusted individuals in the target communities.

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