Journal of
Agricultural Extension and Rural Development

  • Abbreviation: J. Agric. Ext. Rural Dev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2170
  • DOI: 10.5897/JAERD
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 486

Full Length Research Paper

“It All Goes Back to Trust”: A qualitative exploration of extension professionals’ perceptions of COVID-19 vaccines in rural Florida

Ashley McLeod-Morin
  • Ashley McLeod-Morin
  • Southeastern Coastal Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, University of Florida, Gainesville, United States.
  • Google Scholar
Lisa Lundy
  • Lisa Lundy
  • Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, University of Florida, Gainesville, United States.
  • Google Scholar
Angela B. Lindsey
  • Angela B. Lindsey
  • Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, United States.
  • Google Scholar
Michaela S. Kandzer
  • Michaela S. Kandzer
  • Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Florida, Gainesville, United States.
  • Google Scholar
Ricky Telg
  • Ricky Telg
  • Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, University of Florida, Gainesville, United States.
  • Google Scholar
Tracy Irani
  • Tracy Irani
  • Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, United States.
  • Google Scholar


  •  Received: 27 October 2022
  •  Accepted: 06 March 2023
  •  Published: 31 March 2023

Abstract

While urban communities experienced high levels of infection at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities experienced an increase of confirmed cases during the fall months of 2020. Rural Americans were also among the most hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of [State] extension professionals related to the COVID-19 vaccines in rural communities. Qualitative methods were utilized to gather data from extension professionals in rural area of [State], where vaccine uptake was below average. Results revealed frustration with the vaccine process, vaccine norms, and skepticism and mistrust to all be contributing factors to vaccine hesitancy in rural communities. Extension professionals discussed not feeling comfortable discussing topics related to public health with their clientele, citing the topic being outside their expertise. Practical recommendations from this study included utilizing a grassroots approach rather than relying on mass media, providing messages related to the COVID-19 vaccine that focus on education, rather than promotion, and testing new messages before they are disseminated.

Key words: Health communication, extension, vaccines, motivated reasoning, qualitative research.