WSU partnership addresses vaccine hesitancy

Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow Center for Media & Health Promotion Research, in partnership with WSU Extension, and the WSU College of Education will lead engagement efforts to reduce vaccine hesitancy in rural and underserved communities through a new, nationwide land-grant initiative.

The Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching & Engagement, or EXCITE program is designed to reach communities with limited resources to address vaccine hesitancy through two previously announced sets of activities. The first is a system-wide engagement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccinate with Confidence communication campaign. The second includes selected adult immunization education pilot projects. The projects enable critical education outreach to over four million underserved citizens. 

A third award opportunity was released in October 2021, with the goal to assess vaccine hesitancy of Extension field educators, specialists, and administrators; create and implement a strategy to reduce vaccine hesitancy for COVID-19 and other adult immunizations; and increase their confidence and willingness to become immunization educators in their communities. 

After a competitive RFA process, WSU was selected as the recipient of this award. Project leaders from WSU include:

  • Erica Weintraub Austin, professor and director, Edward R. Murrow Center for Media and Health Promotion Research, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
  • Paul Bolls, associate dean of research & graduate studies, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
  • Zena Edwards, associate professor and project co-leader, WSU Extension Youth and Families Program Unit
  • Courtney Payne, Extension educator
  • Bruce W. Austin, research assistant professor, Learning and Performance Research Center, College of Education

Their project goal is to reduce hesitancy around vaccination and increase willingness to serve in educational roles around adult vaccination among Cooperative Extension personnel at all three types of land-grant institutions. 

To learn more about the EXCITE program, visit

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