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Research Report "Get Shot Done" Finds Most SU Students Want COVID Vaccines

Scott Willis

A comprehensive research report conducted by student-run public relations and advertising firms at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School has found the vast majority of students were in favor of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Senior PR major Jesse Nadelman is Firm Director for Hill Communications, and knows firsthand how his final year of college was impacted by the virus. He says their research shows 95 percent of students said they’d get the vaccine if it meant a return to classrooms and regular social life on campus.

“Student life at SU specifically has been so upended by the pandemic that we did expect students to see the vaccine as the opportunity to get rid of these restrictions and go back to what we enjoyed about college before COVID,” he said.

On the other hand, Nadelman says nearly 11% said they were on the fence about the vaccine, and three percent said they wouldn’t get it at all. But he says that may have changed since the survey was conducted earlier in the year when vaccines were just being rolled out. Rachel Kanter is a junior advertising major and president of The New House student-run ad agency. She says most of the hesitancy revolved around side effects.

“When creating our content to pair with the research report, we weren’t hiding the fact that the vaccine did have side effects. You have to weigh getting side effects versus actually getting COVID. What are you willing to give up, having side effects for a day versus getting COVID,” Kanter said.

The student researchers hope the findings can serve as a guide for universities and colleges nationwide, and perhaps inspire their own research. Nadelman says other institutions might find more reluctance among their students.

“Administrations can conduct research like we’ve done, get insights like we have in their communities, and see how their students are feeling so that they can make more well-informed decisions and connect with students based on information about why the vaccine is important for them to get and why it’s safe and effective,” he said.

As the semester winds down and campus slowly empties, Kanter hopes their research leads to yet more vaccinations.

“We just want to keep the conversation going about vaccine confidence and to provide people now going home with information on how to talk to their family and friends who may be hesitant about the vaccine to get them the vaccine as well,” she said.

The student firms partnered with global health innovation company Real Chemistry on the research report, which is called “Get Shot Done.”  The research was based on more than 470 student responses, two focus groups, and analysis of social media conversations.

The campaign culminates May 17 at 7pm with a virtual event featuring Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta, SU assistant men’s basketball coach Allen Griffin and others. The public is invited, but registrations is required here.