Investigating the determinants of vaccine hesitancy within undergraduate students’ social sphere

Alessandro Siani*, Megan Driscoll, Tia-mai Hurst, Tutu Coker, Alice Georgina Grantham, Amrit Bunet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Aims: Vaccine hesitancy is widely recognised as one of the most serious threats to current global health. While the causes underlying vaccine hesitancy have been extensively described and several mitigation strategies trialled amongst current and prospective parents, there is a relative scarcity of research investigating its extent and causative factors amongst university students, a critical demographic due to its temporal proximity to the average child-rearing age. The present study sought to address this literature gap by elucidating the social and demographic factors that might underpin vaccine hesitancy in university students.

Subject and methods: An anonymous online survey was carried out to investigate the opinions and perspectives on the practice of vaccination within undergraduate students’ social sphere. The statistical significance of the differences observed between groups of participants was analysed using non-parametric tests of variance.

Results: Amongst the 739 volunteers who participated in the survey, vaccine confidence varied significantly (p < 0.001) with age, ethnicity and religion, and to a lesser (yet still statistically significant) extent (p < 0.05) with graduate status. No statistically significant differences were observed with regard to gender or number of children.

Conclusions: By shedding new light on the factors underpinning vaccine hesitancy within undergraduate students’ social network, the present study provides a stepping stone towards the development of targeted mitigation strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Public Health
Early online date9 Apr 2021
Publication statusEarly online - 9 Apr 2021


  • vaccine hesitancy
  • University
  • undergraduate students
  • age
  • ethnicity
  • religion
  • qualifications


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