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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Yang Co-Investigator on Two New Grants to Study Vaccine Hesitancy

Computational Approaches and Message Effects Research (CAMER) group faculty leader Sijia Yang is a co-investigator on two new grants. The grants will fund projects researching vaccine hesitancy

The first grant is funded by the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research through the Clinical and Community Outcomes Research Pilot Awards mechanism.

Promoting COVID Vaccine Acceptance for Safety Net Providers and Patients in Wisconsin
Susan Passmore, PhD, School of Medicine and Public Health
Academic Collaborators: Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, SoE & SMPH; Sijia Yang, L&S
UW Program Partners: Collaborative Center for Health Equity
Community Collaborators: Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (Stephanie Harrison, Sashikala Gregory)

Abstract: As the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed, we find ourselves in a context of greatly exacerbated mistrust of science, health professionals and the government and, in turn, the likeness of vaccine rejection, especially among underserved populations who disproportionately suffer from high COVID-19 prevalence, hospitalization and death rates. The goals of this study are to (1) develop a stakeholder engagement plan and messaging strategies toolkit to increase health care providers’ ability to promote a COVID vaccine to patients under initial distribution conditions; (2) conduct a mixed-method exploration (focus groups & survey) to identify promising patient beliefs and message themes regarding COVID-19 prevention and vaccine uptake to improve vaccine acceptability among patients for use by FQHC leadership and providers; and (3) assess the effectiveness of messaging through a survey-based message evaluation experiment.

The second grant is funded by the CDC through UW-Madison Preventive Research Center for the implementation of CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine confidence strategy.

Connecting Behavioral Science to COVID-19 Vaccine Demand Network
Dr. Susan Passmore, Collaborative Center for Health Equity
Collaborators: Dr. Malia Jones, UW Applied Population Laboratory and Dear Pandemic, Dr. Andy Garbacz, Department of Educational Psychology, and Dr. Sijia Yang, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Description: The goal is to identify key behavioral insights that will inform effective solutions to increase confidence in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, and ultimately uptake.

As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out, high uptake of the vaccines is necessary to reduce the burden of disease and control the pandemic. To ensure high uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, communities need to have:

1) Sufficient confidence in the vaccines
2) Healthcare professionals who administer vaccines
3) The public health system that authorizes/approves, recommends, and monitors vaccines.

Promoting confidence in vaccines will require more than messages. With this project we will seek to build trust and confidence among Wisconsin’s rural families with children. We are collaborating with partners that have considerable relationship and reach in the rural communities, including: Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Programs (SWCAP), the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPHCA), and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Immunization Program. Dear, Pandemic, is an additional collaborator that produces accessible, credible, and timely information about COVID-19, vaccines, and vaccination.

Working in close collaboration with our community partners, we will use existing data to co-design messages to be used in social media, community education, and a provider toolkit.

The budget allocated from these two grants combined will allow Yang to hire a 12-month RA and support graduate and undergraduate students during the summer months through funded student hourly positions. There is also a research budget to develop, test, and implement effective message interventions to address vaccine hesitancy in Wisconsin, especially in rural communities.

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