Understanding Vaccination Among Hesitant Adopters of the COVID-19 Vaccine Using the Increasing Vaccination Model

J Health Commun. 2023 Jul 3;28(7):458-476. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2023.2224265. Epub 2023 Jul 2.


The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was the third leading cause of death in 2021 in the United States and has led to historic declines in life expectancy for Americans. While vaccination is an effective mitigation strategy for COVID-19, vaccine hesitancy remains a major barrier to individual and population-level protection. An emerging literature on hesitant adopters of COVID-19 vaccines highlights co-occurrence of hesitancy and vaccine uptake as an understudied phenomenon, with the potential to provide insight into factors that lead hesitant individuals to become vaccinated despite their hesitancy. We use qualitative interviews among hesitant adopters in Arkansas to examine vaccine hesitancy among this understudied group. Drawing on the Increasing Vaccination Model, we find that the most frequently reported motivations of hesitant adopters were within the domain of social processes, pointing to a critical focal point for targeted health communications intervening in this domain (e.g. social norms, social networks, and altruistic behavior). We find that recommendations from health care workers (HCWs) other than physicians/providers may serve as an effective influence to vaccinate. We also demonstrate negative effects of low provider and HCW confidence and weak recommendations on motivations to vaccinate among individuals expressing vaccine hesitancy. Additionally, we find individual information-seeking behaviors among hesitant adopters bolstered confidence in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. Based on these findings, clear, accessible, and authoritative health communication has a role in combatting the COVID-19 misinformation/disinformation infodemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Altruism
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Health Communication*
  • Humans
  • Vaccination


  • COVID-19 Vaccines