Believe it or not, social media isn’t all bad, not even when it comes to talking about vaccines.
Of course, social media does amplify the bad players and does seem to help scare many parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.
But the anti-vaccine movement pre-dates social media. Social media simply helps a minority of folks who don’t trust vaccines become even more vocal.
Vaccines and Social Media
So that we are on the same page, do you know what folks are talking about when they mention social media?
Social media is the interactive parts of the Internet, so places like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Snapchat, Pinterest, and YouTube, etc.
What are you going to find if you go on social media and want to talk about vaccines?
“The semantic network of positive vaccine sentiment demonstrated greater cohesiveness in discourse compared to the larger, less-connected network of negative vaccine sentiment.”Kang et al on Semantic Network Analysis of Vaccine Sentiment in Online Social Media
It depends on who your friends are, what groups you are in, and who you follow.
“Measures of information exposure derived from Twitter explained differences in coverage that were not explained by socioeconomic factors. Vaccine coverage was lower in states where safety concerns, misinformation, and conspiracies made up higher proportions of exposures, suggesting that negative representations of vaccines in the media may reflect or influence vaccine acceptance.”Dunn et al on Mapping information exposure on social media to explain differences in HPV vaccine coverage in the United States.
And unfortunately, that likely influences whether or not your kids are going to be vaccinated and protected.
Social media can be a strong tool to combat vaccine hesitancy too though and can help educate folks that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.
“Given the ‘viral’ rates of anti-vaccination campaign dispersion through these same media, public health departments working in tandem with community groups, clinicians, hospitals and federal officials can leverage strong coalitions to prevent and treat infectious disease in their communities.”Warren et al on Measles, social media and surveillance in Baltimore City
It is especially important that local and state health departments learn to use social media during outbreaks to educate the public on the importance of getting vaccinated and protected and combat propaganda and new conspiracy theories that sometimes arise when they don’t put out enough information about an outbreak.
“Our results indicate that users of Twitter (OR4.41, 95%CI: 1.43-13.60) and Facebook (OR 1.66, 95%CI: 1.01-2.72) as sources of health information were more likely to be vaccinated in comparison to users who do not use Twitter or Facebook as a source of health information.”Ahmed et al on Social media use and influenza vaccine uptake among White and African American adults.
More than a few studies have shown that social media interventions improve vaccine acceptance.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that it is the folks who are against vaccines that are more likely to talk to others about vaccines on social media.
“To summarize the results, mothers who generally support childhood vaccinations are less likely to engage in communicative action about the issue, including information seeking, attending, forefending, permitting, forwarding, and sharing.”McKeever et al on Silent Majority: Childhood Vaccinations and Antecedents to Communicative Action
So what should we do?
Instead of worrying about getting Larry Cook and a few other anti-vaccine heroes off social media, let’s get more vaccine advocates on social media!
“By targeting those who are in support of childhood vaccinations with simple, fact-based information that is easy to share online, media and health organizations could create a contagion effect on social media, which could help change perceptions, attitudes, and possibly even vaccine-related behaviors, and might have implications for years to come.”McKeever et al on Silent Majority: Childhood Vaccinations and Antecedents to Communicative Action
And not just during outbreaks of measles!
More on Vaccines and Social Media
- VAXOPEDIA – Do Anti-Vaccine Parents Ever Change Their Minds?
- VAXOPEDIA – How Pediatricians Should Talk to Vaccine Hesitant Parents
- VAXOPEDIA – Anti-Vaccine Censorship on Facebook
- VAXOPEDIA – Vaccine Tweets to Remember
- VAXOPEDIA – Dear Anti-Vaxxers,
- VAXOPEDIA – When You Ask for Vaccine Advice in an Anti-Vaccine Facebook Group…
- VAXOPEDIA – 100 Myths About Vaccines
- VAXOPEDIA – Answers to Anti-Vaccine Talking Points
- VAXOPEDIA – 50 Ways to Get Educated About Vaccines
- VAXOPEDIA – Anti-Vaccine Points Refuted A Thousand Times
- CDC – Social Media Content
- The motives of anti-vaccine voices on social media
- Hashtag How Do I Social Media About Vaccines
- Engaging on Social Media about HPV
- How vaccine myths spread, and how amateurs using social media can be effective
- Study – Strategies for addressing vaccine hesitancy – A systematic review.
- Study– The Impact of Social Networks on Parents’ Vaccination Decisions
- Study – Finding Reliable Information About Vaccines
- Study – The overlooked dangers of anti-vaccination groups’ social media presence
- Study – Semantic network analysis of vaccine sentiment in online social media.
- Study – Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate.
- Study – What do popular YouTube videos say about vaccines?
- Study – On pins and needles: how vaccines are portrayed on Pinterest.
- Study – Associations Between Exposure to and Expression of Negative Opinions About Human Papillomavirus Vaccines on Social Media: An Observational Study.
- Study – Facebook and Twitter vaccine sentiment in response to measles outbreaks.
- Study – Mapping information exposure on social media to explain differences in HPV vaccine coverage in the United States.
- Study – Zika vaccine misconceptions: A social media analysis.
- Study – Social media as a platform for health-related public debates and discussions: the Polio vaccine on Facebook.
- Study – User-Driven Comments on a Facebook Advertisement Recruiting Canadian Parents in a Study on Immunization: Content Analysis.
- Study – From Social Media to Mainstream News: The Information Flow of the Vaccine-Autism Controversy in the US, Canada, and the UK.
- Study – Polarization of the vaccination debate on Facebook.
- Study – Measles, social media and surveillance in Baltimore City.
- Study – Understanding Vaccine Refusal: Why We Need Social Media Now.
- Study – Mapping the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook
- Study – Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm–an overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement.
- Study – Silent Majority: Childhood Vaccinations andAntecedents to Communicative Action
- Study – The defining characteristics of Web 2.0 and their potential influence in the online vaccination debate.
- Study – Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? (How) the Internet influences vaccination decisions: recent evidence and tentative guidelines for online vaccine communication.
- Study – Opportunities and challenges of Web 2.0 for vaccination decisions.
- Study – Web-based Social Media Intervention to Increase Vaccine Acceptance: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
- Study – Social media use and influenza vaccine uptake among White and African American adults.
- Study – Addressing Parents’ Vaccine Concerns: A Randomized Trial of a Social Media Intervention.
- Study – Social Media Intervention Improves Vaccine Acceptance.
- Study – Using Twitter to Understand Public Perceptions Regarding the #HPV Vaccine: Opportunities for Public Health Nurses to Engage in Social Marketing.
- Study – Social nudging: The effect of social feedback interventions on vaccine uptake.
- Study – Combating Vaccine Hesitancy: Teaching the Next Generation to Navigate Through the Post Truth Era.
- Study – Vaccine Hesitancy: In Search of the Risk Communication Comfort Zone.