Exploring vaccine hesitancy determinants during the COVID-19 pandemic: An in-depth interview study

Gabriela I. Morales, Sangwon Lee, Amanda Bradford, Adam De Camp, Edson C. Tandoc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


On January 20, 2020, the CDC reported its first case of the novel coronavirus in the United States. Almost a year and a half after the first COVID-19 vaccine was given in the U.S., efforts to vaccinate individuals in the hopes of achieving herd immunity continue. Despite the amounts of scientific breakthroughs to create and disseminate the vaccines, people continue to express hesitancy. Existing research has explored vaccine hesitancy through survey data, restricting an in-depth understanding for why people remain hesitant. As a result, this research aimed to understand in-depth reasons for vaccine hesitancy as well as what finally got those who, although hesitant, went through with getting inoculated. In addition, we also wanted to know how the vaccine hesitant received information about the vaccine. Using in-depth interviews, we identified key elements that influenced vaccine hesitancy which include social pressure to not get vaccinated and lack of trust in the healthcare system. We also identified reasons why vaccine hesitant individuals ultimately decided to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. These reasons included becoming informed, getting back to normal, and societal pressure. Finally, we sought to understand what served as venues for COVID-19 information and those were media sources like traditional news outlets/legacy media (e.g., TV) and digital/social media, and interpersonal sources like family, friends, and co-workers. In revealing these factors through in-depth interviews, we show how complex vaccine hesitancy is and the elements public health practitioners need to take into consideration when constructing vaccine-related information/messages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100045
JournalSSM - Qualitative Research in Health
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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© 2022 The Authors


  • COVID-19 vaccines
  • In-depth interviews
  • Qualitative methods
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • Vaccine hesitancy determinants


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