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Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching & Engagement (EXCITE) Announces Funding Recipient for Vaccine Hesitancy of the Cooperative Extension System


The Extension Foundation, in cooperation with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, through an Interagency Agreement with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are funding the Cooperative Extension System to address health disparities among rural and other underserved communities. This initiative is called the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching & Engagement (EXCITE).

The EXCITE program serves all Land-grant universities  to reach communities with limited resources to address vaccine hesitancy through two sets of activities: system-wide engagement with the CDC’s Vaccinate with Confidence communication campaign (Activity 1) and selected adult immunization education pilot projects (Activity 2). Seventy-two Land-grant Universities are served through 96 projects enabling critical education outreach to over 4 million underserved citizens.

A third award opportunity was released on October 1st, 2021. The goal of this funding is

  • 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 confidence and willingness to become immunization educators in their community.

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

  • Erica Weintraub Austin, Professor and Director, Edward R. Murrow Center for Media and Health Promotion Research
  • Paul Bolls, Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Studies, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
  • Zena Edwards, Unit Associate Professor and Project Co-leader, WSU Extension
  • Courtney Payne, Extension Educator
  • Bruce W. Austin, Research Assistant Professor, Learning and Performance Research Center, College of Education

The goal of this project 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 (1862, 1890, 1994). This funding is for December 1, 2021 - April 30, 2023.

Michelle Rodgers, EXCITE Project Director and Associate Dean and Director of Extension at the University of Delaware shared that “Washington State’s proposal from the Edward R. Murrow Center for Media and Health Promotion Research, the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, the College of Education, and in collaboration with WSU Extension’s Youth and Families Program, brings an innovative look at vaccination hesitancy. Their approach complements Cooperative Extension’s EXCITE initiative by recognizing that information-based campaigns often don’t resolve ambivalence and may even create psychological reactance. Their plan combines the evidence-based practices of motivational interviewing, media literacy and biometric/physiological testing used in neuromarketing to help uncover reasons for hesitancy and provide solutions along and is partnered with Extension faculty members on the team. Previously, this team has successfully paired with Cooperative Extension in Washington State around nutrition education messaging that demonstrates baseline knowledge of the work of Cooperative Extension and its stakeholders. Our program team is looking forward to partnering with Washington State on this project.”

To learn more about the EXCITE program, please visit

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