A total of 1,653 students enrolled at a public Midwestern university completed the survey. Participants were described primarily as undergraduate students (74%), female (61%), and White (81%). Although 50% of students had been vaccinated prior to data collection, 50% had not been. Among the 793 students who had not been vaccinated, 49% had no intention of getting vaccinated, and 22% were undecided. Interestingly, none of the students who indicated they intended to receive the vaccine provided responses to the most of the survey items. Therefore, we did not include these students in the summary statistics or Chi-square analyses. Thus, only students who indicated they did not intend to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and those who were undecided concerning their intention to receive the vaccine were included in the analysis.
Using cross-tabulations with Chi-square analysis, we determined the breakdown of students’ intentions of not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or being undecided concerning their intentions by the demographic factors of age, gender, race, class status, and being a first generation college student. In terms of age, the group of students between the ages 24 and 29 had the highest percentage (79.3%) reporting they did not intend to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For the remainder of the examined demographic variables (including group sizes with 10 or more participants), the highest percentages of students who did not intend to receive the COVID-19 vaccine were graduates (49.1%), multiracial/other race (73.7%), and those who were not First Generation (70.1%). However, only gender was significantly associated with vaccine refusal, as males (74.3%) were significantly more likely than females (66.2%) to indicate having no intention to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Χ2(1,N = 554) = 4.22, p = 0.040.
Participants were presented with potential barriers that may prevent them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Primary reasons for hesitancy included not trusting the vaccine was fully tested (85.0%), fear of potential side effects (78.0%), not trusting the vaccine is safe (72.0%), not trusting the US government (61.0%), and having read negative reports from the media about the vaccine (60.0%). The least frequently cited reasons for vaccine hesitancy and refusal were the expense of the vaccine (1.0%) and being advised by a medical provider not to get the vaccine (8.0%). Percentages are presented in Fig. 1.
Next, we used cross-tabulations with Chi-square analyses to determine if there were an association between a perception or behavior and refusal or hesitancy to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Students who reported family members had not received the COVID-19 vaccine, Χ2(1,N = 560) = 8.49, p = 0.004; they did not trust the U. S. government, Χ2(1,N = 510) = 4.22, p = 0.040; did not trust health care providers, Χ2(1,N = 509) = 4.85, p = 0.028; they did not trust the vaccine had been fully tested, Χ2(1,N = 509) = 7.93, p = 0.005; they believed that the vaccine was not safe, Χ2(1,N = 509) = 27.78, p < 0.001; they believed that the vaccine could not protect them from getting COVID-19, Χ2(1,N = 507) = 27.95, p < 0.001; and they indicated that religious beliefs prevented them from receiving the vaccine, Χ2(1,N = 507) = 9.82, p = 0.002 were more likely to report they had no intention of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine (Table 1). However, students who reported they did not have a fear of side effects from the vaccine were more likely to report they did not intend to receive the vaccine, Χ2(1,N = 512) = 17.87, p < 0.001.