COVID-19 vaccine perspectives and uptake among university students three years into the pandemic

Barbara J. Kuter, Kate Brien, Susannah Anderson, Sarah Bauerle Bass, Linda Gutierrez, Stella Winters, Breanna Eichenlaub, Carmelita Whitfield, Walter Faig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: University students have been uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for the past three years (2020–2023). Understanding their COVID-19 perspectives, beliefs, and vaccine uptake may help to improve future vaccine initiatives and education. Methods: A cross sectional, confidential, online survey was conducted at four universities in Pennsylvania in spring 2023 to assess undergraduate, graduate, and professional students’ perspectives regarding their knowledge of COVID-19 vaccines, importance of COVID-19 vaccines and mandates, number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine received including the recent BA.4/BA.5 bivalent booster, where they were vaccinated, receipt of influenza vaccine, and sources of information used to make decisions about COVID-19 vaccine. Results: Vaccination for COVID-19 was considered important by 75 % of 2223 students surveyed; 68 % agreed with mandating COVID-19 vaccine. Over 89 % were fully COVID-19 vaccinated (≥2 doses), 65 % were up-to-date (≥3 doses), but only 35 % had received the BA.4/BA.5 booster. Students who considered COVID-19 vaccine important were generally older, female, and non-business majors. Higher rates of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination were found in those who received influenza vaccine in 2022–2023, females, Asians, doctoral or professional students, those attending larger universities, non-US residents, and those interested in learning more about COVID-19 vaccines. Most trusted sources of information on COVID-19 vaccines were the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare providers, and parents; the least trusted sources were social media, television, and the internet. Conclusions: The majority of university students agreed that COVID-19 vaccination is important and supported COVID-19 mandates. While the rate of fully vaccinated and up-to-date students was similar to the US adult population, the latter rate needs improvement. Receipt of the BA.4/BA.5 booster was particularly low. Further education is needed to improve vaccine knowledge, especially as we move to periodic boosters. Business majors, males, and younger students may benefit from increased on-campus vaccine education initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1745-1756
Number of pages12
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 7 2024


  • Booster
  • COVID-19
  • College/university students
  • Fully vaccinated
  • Mandates
  • Up-to-date
  • Vaccines
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Vaccination
  • Male
  • Pandemics/prevention & control
  • Universities
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Students
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Influenza Vaccines


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