Honors Theses


College of Arts and Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Bachelor of Science



Document Type

Honors Thesis


The dynamic between the young adult and their immediate parent(s) is unique as it is in limbo between childhood and the young adult starting their own family. Although young adults can legally make their own vaccine decisions, parental influence can be a major factor in their decision making (Patel, Zochowski, Peterman et al., 2012). The aim of this study is to investigate the sociological phenomena behind the differing attitudes between family members on the topic of COVID-19 vaccination. As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the health and stability of society, understanding the factors that influence vaccine attitudes can inform the ways communicators promote vaccine acceptance. A Qualtrics survey was used to collect demographic and screening data; the survey screened for young adults aged 18-25 who have a different opinion on the COVID-19 vaccine than their family member(s). Out of the 73 survey respondents, 14 fit the selection criteria (N=14). Those who fit the criteria and agreed to be interviewed were invited to participate in a virtual WebEx interview (N=4). Interviews were analyzed thematically (Braun & Clarke, 2006) using NVivo. Four main categories were identified using the themes collected from the NVivo analysis: 1) Personal choice, 2) Job Influence/Pressure, 3) Politics, and 4) The novelty of the COVID-19 vaccine. Any disagreements that the participant had with their parents often included all four categories, and negative vaccine attitudes often coincided with each category, along with subcategories in religion, belief in one’s own natural immunity, and the fear of vaccine side effects. There were few reports of severe arguments between the parent and the participant; most discussions were reported to be civil and respectful. In this study, when vaccine attitudes varied within families, young adult children tended to be understanding of their parents’ vaccine opinions and attitudes, and vice versa. Both parties 3 expressed a strong belief in personal choice, and those who accepted the COVID-19 vaccine understood the hesitancy over its novelty. Future research could address whether or not these respectful and understanding discussions between close individuals (such as a parent and child) could help promote vaccine acceptance.

Publication Date


First Advisor

Seitz, Holli

Second Advisor

Vancil-Leap, Ashley

Third Advisor

Elder, Anastasia