Governments provide resources that enable people and neighborhoods to return to normalcy after emergencies, which enhances community resilience. Past research found that such resources are not always equitably utilized by communities, where oftentimes communities with high social vulnerability receive fewer resources. COVID-19 was one of the largest and most widespread public health emergencies. In response to the emergency, the United States (U.S.) government sponsored the creation and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the probability of severe illness and death, making them an important resource for community resilience. This study uses an explanatory sequential mixed methods research design to examine three research questions related to social equity in vaccine administration: (1) What is the relationship between community social vulnerability and COVID-19 vaccine administration?; (2) Did individuals trying to access the COVID-19 vaccine encounter administrative burdens?; and (3) How do the administrative burdens experienced by individuals when trying to access the COVID-19 vaccine provide a better understanding of the relationship between social vulnerability and COVID-19 vaccine administration? County level data for all U.S. counties were analyzed to examine the first research question. Findings indicate that there was an association between counties with higher wealth-related social vulnerability and lower county vaccination rates, but counties with higher employment-related and ethnicity-related social vulnerability were associated with higher vaccination rates. Qualitative interview data from 31 individuals revealed that few individuals faced administrative burdens when trying to access the COVID-19 vaccines, but a variety of resources and support services were used to access the vaccines. However, not everyone had equal access to resources, as individuals indicated that resources required wealth for access, and many resources were provided by employers. In addition, results revealed that ethnicity often presented psychological barriers to getting vaccinated. These results suggest that the resources invested in vaccination efforts materialized for some, but not all types of vulnerability. Emergency managers and policymakers should consider these results when providing resources meant to enhance community resilience following future emergencies and crises.


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Graduation Date





Sadiq, Abdul-Akeem


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


School of Public Administration

Degree Program

Public Affairs; Public Administration Track




CFE0009516; DP0027520





Release Date

May 2023

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)