COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Medical Students: A Systematic Review


Vaccine hesitancy leads to an increase in morbidity, mortality, and health care burden. Reasons for vaccine hesitancy include anti-vax group statements, misinformation about vaccine side effects, speed of vaccine development, and general disbelief in the existence of viruses like COVID-19. Medical students are future physicians and are key influencers in the uptake of vaccines. Hence, investigating vaccine hesitancy in this population can help to overcome any barrier in vaccine acceptance. 


In this paper, we review five articles on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in medical students and consider potential future research.  


All published papers relevant to the topic were obtained through extensive search using major databases. Inclusion criteria included studies that specifically investigated COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in medical students published between 2020 and 2021. Exclusion criteria included studies that investigated vaccine hesitancy in healthcare professionals, allied health, and viruses apart from COVID-19.


A total of 10 studies were found from our search. Based on our exclusion criteria only five studies were included in our review. The sample size ranged from 168 to 2133 medical students. The percentage of vaccine hesitancy in medical students ranged from 10.6% to 45.7%. Reasons for vaccine hesitancy included concern about serious side effects, vaccine efficacy, misinformation and insufficient information, disbelief in public health experts, financial costs, and belief that they had acquired immunity. 


These results suggest that vaccine hesitancy is an important cause of the incidence and prevalence of COVID-19 cases. Identifying the barriers of vaccine hesitancy in prospective physicians can help alleviate these barriers and increase vaccination uptake in the general public. Further research is necessary to identify the root cause of these barriers.

Kirthika Venkatesan poster

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