A qualitative study on Black students' vaccination decisions using the Health Belief Model
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Pandemics and vaccinations are nothing new, and the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most recent to threaten millions of lives globally. The first widely distributed vaccine was created for smallpox (CDC, 2022) and since that world changing innovation, more vaccines have become available to combat a wide range of diseases. However, progress in science has not been without controversy. There has been a history of malevolent medical research conducted on and by using Black and other minority bodies in the United States (e.g., Henrietta Lack, Tuskegee). These abuses are tied to the rightfully just skepticism among Black Americans toward vaccinations (Green, et al., 2013). To understand this dynamic, specifically for Black college students during the COVID-19 pandemic, a qualitative analysis of 11 semi-structured interviews, sought recurring points of mediated, and non-mediated messages influence on receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. Findings, analyzed through the lens of the Health Belief Model (Jones, et al., 2014), reveal that most participants were influenced by non-mediated forms of communication (e.g., friends, family, and network) regarding their decision to vaccinate over mediated forms of communication. Overall, participants perceived that they were susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and saw the disease as severe. The participants mostly had a positive outlook on the vaccine and recognized its benefits to reduce threat in the future. Most of the participants did not experience barriers to getting the vaccine, while those who did successfully navigated through them. Cues to action that reminded individuals to get vaccinated were received from social media, digital media, mainstream television, and more. Lastly, all participants increased their self-efficacy to get the vaccine on their own by talking to friends, family, and co-workers as well as understanding the circumstances of vulnerable individuals around them. Participants elaborated on their lived experience with the COVID-19 disease, as well as obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine, explaining both positive and negative aspects. Individual explanations on influences on getting the COVID-19 vaccine ranged from vulnerable individuals within their family to trusted news sources such as the CDC and medical journals. This study attempts to fill the literature gap due to most prior research on the COVID-19 vaccination and Black populations mostly discussing hesitancy but do not include Black students within the narrative. The study focuses on these individuals' reasoning for obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine and to determine if mediated forms of communication or non-mediated forms of communication has a greater influence on Black students' decision-making process to receive the vaccine.