No Booster for Us! An Understanding of HBCU Students’ COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Hesitancy

  •  Joonwoo Moon    
  •  Julaine S. Rigg    
  •  Janice E. Smith    
  •  Jana Duckett    


This exploratory study examines COVID-19 booster vaccine hesitancy among African American college students at a four-year Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Maryland. Although limited in scope, this research has implications for students at other HBCUs because of the shared history and culture of the “Black experience” in the United States. The study was conducted using focus groups. Key findings lie in the areas of self-efficacy, gender, and health status couched in the context of African Americans’ generational distrust of government and science to serve their best interests. In terms of self-efficacy, the students stated by taking the initial vaccines, they had done enough to ward off severe COVID-19. A concern by gender was voiced about purported side effects of the vaccine experienced from the initial doses. Certainly, as with many young adults of all races, the students in the study had a sense of invincibility regarding their health. Overall, the findings indicate that government and health organizations need to work more purposively by listening to the young African Americans they seek to serve. This in turn could lead to the creation of more effective health messages to reach demographics and communities who view themselves as outliers from the larger society.

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