Harnessing Twitter data to survey public attention and attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines in the UK.
Fazel S., Zhang L., Javid B., Brikell I., Chang Z.
Attitudes to COVID-19 vaccination vary considerably within and between countries. Although the contribution of socio-demographic factors to these attitudes has been studied, the role of social media and how it interacts with news about vaccine development and efficacy is uncertain. We examined around 2 million tweets from 522,893 persons in the UK from November 2020 to January 2021 to evaluate links between Twitter content about vaccines and major scientific news announcements about vaccines. The proportion of tweets with negative vaccine content varied, with reductions of 20-24% on the same day as major news announcement. However, the proportion of negative tweets reverted back to an average of around 40% within a few days. Engagement rates were higher for negative tweets. Public health messaging could consider the dynamics of Twitter-related traffic and the potential contribution of more targeted social media campaigns to address vaccine hesitancy.