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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Faculty conduct survey on COVID-19 vaccine attitudes

COVID-19 efficacy survey accessible through the QR Code.
COVID-19 efficacy survey accessible through the QR Code.

Ava Chuppe
Staff Writer
[email protected]

Faculty members conducting a study on perceptions of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and safety are encouraging both the University and the Calloway County communities to participate.

The four faculty members involved in the study have backgrounds in public health, nursing and statistics. The idea came from Azaher Molla, an associate professor in the public and Community health program.

“The completion [rate] of vaccine is low here,” Molla said. “We wanted to know the determinants, what are the determinants, why people are very reluctant to actually get the vaccines.”

The survey was originally set to finish in April but has continued because of low response rates. Elizabeth Gordon, co-author of the study and director of the public health program, said she believes the study is still relevant despite this extension

“[COVID-19 is] something that people are probably going to have to be vaccinated on a regular basis against … just like they are the flu, and so I think it just underscores how important it is to understand [the community] and take the temperature of the community,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the study aims to develop a better approach in helping patients feel more comfortable with vaccines.

“I think in order to combat vaccine hesitancy or unavailability, we have to understand what exists,” Gordon said. “The end goal is better patient communication.”

Lauren Roberson, director of the nutrition program and assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Health Professions, said the study aims to determine where people are seeking information about vaccines.

“We want to know if they’ve declined a vaccine other than COVID, because that can be telling, and their perception of the severity of COVID-19,” Roberson said. “So if someone were to get COVID and not be vaccinated, how serious do they think that illness could be?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71% of the U.S. population had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Dec. 6, 2021. At Murray State, the reported vaccination rate is 61% according to the vaccine cards submitted on MyGate, and the rate in Calloway County is 53%.

The authors of the study have not yet analyzed the data they have collected. However, according to the literature so far, they have found common reasons cited for and against COVID-19 vaccination. 

Vaccinated participants cited their own health, the health of loved ones and the wider community and a desire for normalcy as reasons for their status, among others. Unvaccinated participants included reasons like fear, negative experiences with healthcare providers, logistical issues and difficulty of access.

Unvaccinated participants were asked to share what would motivate them to vaccinate. Common responses included an increase in community risk levels, requirement by an employer, membership in an at-risk group and more information about the vaccine.

Roberson said the survey’s current 107 responses do not account for a good proportion of the Murray population.

“We’ve done Listservs. I think we’ve done the Racer Nation Information once. Elizabeth [Gordon] has talked to folks in the health department,” Roberson said. “We do have a drawing for a $50 gift card, so that introduces bias in of itself if people are motivated to participate because of that.”

Gordon acknowledged she and her colleagues are trying their best to minimize bias in the survey.

“If someone thinks it’s important to take the survey, they might be the same type of person who thinks it’s important to get a vaccine,” Gordon said. “So, I think we definitely run that risk, and that’s our challenge now.”

To combat this challenge, Gordon encouraged the University community to participate in the survey if they have not already done so.

“This is an opportunity to be involved in research and science,” Gordon said. “This is a way to give back, to help us understand what the current challenges are and to come up with better solutions.”

The anonymous online survey, comprising 15 questions, takes less than five minutes to complete. Participants who volunteer their contact information are entered in a raffle for a $50 gift card.

The survey can be accessed by scanning the adjacent QR code or by visiting


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