PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) have jointly released results from a wide-reaching survey on COVID-19 vaccination barriers and attitudes in Asian American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (AA & NH/PI) communities in Philadelphia. The report found that language barriers, time conflicts with clinic hours, and lack of transportation were the most commonly reported community barriers to COVID-19 vaccination. Lack of trust was a common theme among vaccine-negative attitudes with concerns varying widely by ethnicity and ZIP Code of residence.

PCDC director John Chin said of the report, “This brief demonstrates that public/nonprofit partnerships can lead to systemic change for the better accessibility of health services to historically underserved communities.”
Dr. Megan Todd, Chief Epidemiologist for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, added, “This brief, completed in partnership with PCDC, highlights the importance of understanding the diverse experiences and challenges of AA & NH/PI communities. Identifying and addressing common shortcomings in data collection and analysis practices is vital for making progress in reducing health disparities and achieving health equity, a core goal of the Health Department.”
People who identify as AA & NH/PI are one of the fastest-growing groups in the City and represent a wide variety of languages, cultures, histories, experiences, and perspectives. Therefore, it is vital to hone data collection and analysis practices that will help us understand the health concerns of these communities.
In an effort to better understand how to collect and analyze data about the AA & NH/PI population in Philadelphia, PCDC partnered with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health—with support from the Partnership for Healthy Cities global network—to analyze the survey results. The survey was a collaboration between PCDC and the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, which collected data from over 2,700 respondents with 966 respondents from Philadelphia from July 2021 to February 2022. The survey was translated into 21 languages, including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, and more, and special efforts were made to reach small AA & NH/PI subpopulations that are not often well-represented in national data sources.
The report identified a diverse set of concerns that varied by ethnicity. Those identifying as Cambodian, as well as smaller AA & NH/PI subpopulations and those identifying as multiethnic—for whom standard interpretation services may be less readily available – commonly reported challenges with language barriers. Concern about vaccination records being shared with ICE or immigration authorities was identified in certain ethnicity groups, such as those identifying as Bangladeshi, Chinese, and smaller AA & NH/PI subpopulations. Transportation was identified as a community barrier to vaccination most highly among residents of 19145, 19120, and 19149 ZIP Codes.
Ariella Rojhani, Director of the Partnership for Healthy Cities, said, “We applaud PDPH on its efforts to assess and redress local health inequities. Every Philadelphian deserves culturally sensitive and responsive access to prevention and treatment services.”
This project’s efforts to disaggregate data and understand diverse perspectives align with the department’s Plan for Health and Racial Equity, which was released in November of 2023. This plan highlights the importance of data justice – integrating community needs and representation into the ways that health data are collected, used, and shared. This work will inform the department’s strategic action plan for data justice.
The new brief can be accessed from the city’s website and has been translated into Chinese (simplified and traditional), Vietnamese, Khmer, Korean and Bengali.
The Partnership for Healthy Cities is a global network of 74 cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries that is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and the global health organization Vital Strategies. For more information, visit