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Dilemma amidst crises: Students’ experiences of COVID-19 vaccine uptake at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Egidius Kamanyi


This paper discusses the experiences of university students on COVID-19 preventive measures by focusing on the dilemmas encountered in responding to the pandemic, especially vaccine uptake. Findings were captured using a qualitative approach through key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and observations at the University of Dar es Salaam. The study was triggered by the fact while COVID-19 pandemic has produced a myriad of challenges to human livelihoods, including for students, experiences of the latter in facing the pandemic are mildly established in literature; particularly how being in areas highly exposed to the risk of COVID-19 has influenced their responses and coping strategies towards acceptance of, or resistance to, vaccination. Based on an interactionist conceptualization, the findings show that COVID-19 is a contested disease as it is defined and understood differently by students in accordance to their everyday experiences and agency, coupled with interactions among and beyond them. Hence, the acceptance and/or resistance to COVID-19 vaccines was informed by same multiple experiences from various sources of information, news, misinformation, trust and distrust. In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, students received information from government announcements, mainstream media, and interactive social media outlets that created fear, uncertainty and controversies, which in turn influenced students’ understanding and decisions to accept or resist COVID-19 vaccines. The paper concludes that students are not only consumers of information and messages, but also creators and actors on the same.

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eISSN: 2591-6831
print ISSN: 0856-9622