Jie Zhuang Awarded TCU Scholarship to Study Vaccine Hesitancy

A photo of a box of vials and several syringes to administer the COVID vaccine.
Jie Zhuang, assistant professor of communication studies, received an inaugural TCU Invests In Scholarship grant to fund research on coronavirus vaccine hesitance. Dr. Zhuang will begin her project in summer 2021.

Black Americans and African Americans have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19, suffering higher rates of infection, hospitalization and deaths in comparison to other groups of people. Black Americans also have been more hesitant to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccine hesitancy has become a significant challenge to public health. Health communication plays an essential role in addressing this pressing issue and strategically delivering effective messages to increase vaccination rates.

Zhuang says previous research has shown the misconceptions about vaccination contribute to Black Americans’ and African Americans’ hesitancy to receive vaccines, and personalized normative feedback has shown a promising effect on combating these misconceptions. With personalized normative feedback, researchers provide individualized information tailored to a person’s normative perceptions rather than providing them with blanket information.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to learn how Black Americans, who are severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and historically show stronger vaccine hesitancy, perceive the COVID-19 vaccination and examine the effects of personalized normative feedback on their intention to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Zhuang says. “I hope this research will provide insights for future research to combat vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minorities. I cannot conduct this research without the support I have received from my department, college and the TCU IS Fund, for all of which I am very grateful.”

TCU IS is a new internal grant program managed by the TCU Office of Sponsored Programs to stimulate research or creative activities that represent identified opportunities for significant external funding and recognition. Dr. Zhuang hopes her TCU IS study will be a pilot for a larger study funded externally.