Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Biological Sciences BS


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Jennifer L. Lemacks, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Charkarra Anderson-Lewis, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sabine Heinhorst, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Nutrition and Food Systems


In March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic due to the ongoing spread of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 disease. While scientific developers were seeking to understand the biochemical mechanism of SARS-CoV-2, political and public health leaders implemented non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as social distancing measures, to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. As the world began to adjust to the new realities, the race to create an effective vaccine was on. With the later development of the COVID-19 vaccine, receptiveness to the vaccine across the world varied, and in the United States, vaccine hesitancy was an apparent phenomenon, especially in Mississippi. This study sought to explore the relationship between the perceptions of COVID-19 vaccine safety and vaccine uptake intention among African American adults in Mississippi. Participants were recruited via social media, email, social networks, and community-based organizations to participate in an online survey. Eligible participants for this study were African American, Mississippi residents over the age of 18 years old. Pearson correlation analyses revealed age, education level, income levels, and knowing a family member who experienced an adverse reaction were associated with vaccine hesitancy. Linear regression results showed perceptions of vaccine safety for self/community, not vaccine safety perceptions, were a significant predictor of vaccine hesitancy, after controlling for several variables. Limitations of this study include limited generalizability. Future studies on vaccine hesitancy in African Americans should examine vaccine hesitancy while accounting for any historical or current events such as the Tuskegee experiment that may have led to medical mistrust.

Keywords: Pandemic, COVID-19 Vaccine, Vaccine Hesitancy, Safety Perception, Vaccine Uptake Intention, Vaccine Safety, African Americans