Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation - Restricted (NYMC/Touro only) Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health


Public Health

First Advisor

Kenneth Knapp, PhD

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Drugge, PhD, MPH

Third Advisor

Mill Etienne, MD, MPH, FAAN, FAES


Background: Vaccines have been known to reduce the risks of contracting a disease by aiding in the body’s natural immune response. As COVID-19 surged across the globe, there was a rapid need for intervention and protection for all. In the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines, there was much hesitancy concerning vaccine safety and the speed of development and effectiveness. There are similar hesitancies which have also been documented in vaccines for the flu, another infectious disease caused by a virus responsible for many doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Even as data began to show progress with vaccination efforts and protection, vaccination hesitancy remained high especially amongst the African American and Hispanic populations. Methods: This research was administered in two stages. The first was survey data collected from a 49 question general population Qualtrics survey, where participants answered questions targeting reasons for vaccine hesitancy in regard to COVID-19 and flu vaccines. The second stage was an evaluation of four key informant interviews from an African American community-based organization, whose members are direct descendants from the 1932-1972 United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee, to elicit detailed descriptions and reflections on motivators, influences, and determinants to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Results: The logistic regression revealed no statistically significant difference between race and vaccine hesitancy. Predicted explanatory variables outlined in the introduction of this study, were also not significant. Sociodemographic characteristics such as age and gender had a statistically significant impact on hesitancy. Conclusion: Though there were no significant differences found in COVID-19 or flu vaccine hesitancy in race, there was notable vaccine hesitancy for the age and gender characteristics. Evidence-based public health programs and policies must continue to be implemented to improve vaccine uptake for not only the African American and Hispanic communities, but for the general population as a whole. This continues to remain a public health priority.