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COVID-19 Vaccination Status and Hesitancy: Survey Evidence from Rural India

Part of the India Studies in Business and Economics book series (ISBE)


While vaccine hesitancy has been a large part of the COVID-19 vaccination discourse in India, there is a significant lack of empirical evidence about hesitancy in rural India. To bridge this gap, we conducted a quasi-representative, in-person survey spanning 32 districts across rural Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in India to comprehensively characterize the barriers to vaccination and understand the attitudes towards the COVID-19 vaccine. We surveyed 6319 adults during April and May of 2022, of which 36% were unvaccinated, 33% were partially vaccinated, and 31% were fully vaccinated. Overall, there was a high intention to get vaccinated among the unvaccinated, with only 20% saying they would never get a vaccine for COVID. We use probit models to estimate the relationships between demographic variables and being vaccinated and the associations between stated barriers and vaccination status. The primary barriers were pregnancy and breastfeeding, and pre-existing medical conditions. The unvaccinated had lower vaccine-related knowledge, more misinformation, and less vaccine-related trust in medical professionals but assigned similar importance to COVID-appropriate behaviors. We also establish a high intention to vaccinate children against COVID, although it varies among adult vaccination statuses, with unvaccinated parents being the least willing to vaccinate their children.


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  1. 1.

    Our project was pre-approved by the Institutional Review Board at Ashoka University.

  2. 2.

    We intended to recruit 6,000 participants for the study, allowing us to calculate sample estimates of vaccine hesitancy for the ~ 247 million rural population of UP and Bihar with a 99% confidence interval and margin of error of about 1.7%. While we planned a representative survey of rural UP, due to the incredible success of the Indian vaccination program, by March 2022, a considerable proportion of the population was already vaccinated. Thus, we changed our design to oversample the unvaccinated to understand their reasons for not vaccinating.


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We thank the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Vaccine Acceptance & Demand initiative for research funding and for comments on the original analysis during their Midline Coalition Meeting. We are grateful to Pavan Mamidi at CSBC for guidance and Shardul Vaidya and Selva Swetha for excellent research assistance. We thank the team at NYAS for partnering on data collection.

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Correspondence to Shagata Mukherjee .

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See Tables A1 and A2

Table A1 Districts covered by survey
Table A2 Barriers mentioned by unvaccinated in open-ended question recordings

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© 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

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Shashidhara, S., Barnhardt, S., Mukherjee, S. (2023). COVID-19 Vaccination Status and Hesitancy: Survey Evidence from Rural India. In: Gupta, I., Das, M. (eds) Contextualizing the COVID Pandemic in India. India Studies in Business and Economics. Springer, Singapore.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-99-4905-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-99-4906-9

  • eBook Packages: Economics and FinanceEconomics and Finance (R0)

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