Analysis: Vaccine Hesitancy in Online Posts

What Social Media Tells Us About Changing Attitudes Toward Vaccinations
Analysis: Vaccine Hesitancy in Online Posts | Payor Solutions | CVS Health
February 16, 2021

As part of our effort to help all Americans get vaccinated for COVID-19 and bring an end to the pandemic, CVS Health has been working to understand attitudes, perceptions and intent to receiving a vaccine.

In addition to a representative nationwide survey, we also analyzed online news and social media discussions from January 4 to 17, focusing on shifts in discussion drivers and other key metrics compared to a benchmark period of November 29, 2020 through January 1, 2021. In addition to analyzing what online conversations were about the vaccine and attitudes toward vaccination, we also wanted to understand the similarities and differences between survey respondents and online discussions. 35% of conversations indicated intent to get vaccinated More than 70 percent of Americans engage in social media in some way, according to a 2019 study by Statista, and social listening data enables us to understand organic consumer attitudes, opinions, and stated intentions/behaviors in an agile, affordable, and scalable way.

Our analysis showed that a little more than a third (35 percent) of all conversations indicated intent to get vaccinated – slightly less than, but in keeping with, the findings of our in-person survey. The number of social posts stating that they would not get vaccinated was also similar, 31 percent compared to 25 percent in the survey.

The substance of the online posts revealed other interesting trends as well. For instance, among people wanting to get vaccinated, the new virus variants were second out of 14 tracked topics, although it was a topic among most posters. By contrast, among those waiting until others got vaccinated, the different types of vaccines and the safety of mRNA-based technologies compared to that of viral vector options was one of the top subjects – ranking third out of 14 topics. Vaccine clinical trials continued to be a leading topic of discussion among all groups, while conspiracy theory discussions were prevalent only among those unsure whether they were likely to get vaccinated.

The large amount of sharing of news content related to adverse events or deaths seemingly linked to the virus, as well as challenges with the roll-out, may be a good indication of the continued vaccine hesitancy. Of the most shared content, only one story – the potential for mRNA vaccines to someday vanquish cancer – was positive. The rest concerned news of side effects, difficulties with administering or obtaining the vaccine, and measures state and federal governments were resorting to, in order to expand access.

Date Outlet Shares
1 Jan 12 NPR Why Do I Still Need to Wear A Mask After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine? 381,000
2 Jan 15 CNBC Biden to deploy FEMA, National Guard to set up Covid vaccine clinics across U.S. 311,000
3 Jan 15 Washington Post Vaccine reserve was exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access 293,000
4 Jan 4 Daily Mail Porguguese woman dies two days after getting Pfizer covid vaccine 195,000
5 Jan 15 NY Daily News 23 nursing home residents die in Norway after COVID vaccine 175,000
6 Jan 15 NBC News Thousands of Covid-19 vaccines wind up in the garbage because of fed, state guidelines 105,000
7 Jan 16 Bloomberg Covid Vaccine Deaths Rise in Norway Among Older People 87,000
8 Jan 9 Bloomberg mRNA Vaccines Could Vanquish Covid Today, Cancer Tomorrow 87,000
9 Jan 11 L.A. Times L.A. students must get COVID-19 vaccine to regurn to school 86,000
10 Jan 18 NBC News Washington state taps Starbucks for help with Covid vaccine rollout 73,000

Government and political influencer discussion has steadily grown since December. In what could be good news for health experts, President Joe Biden has now surpassed former President Donald Trump as the most discussed political influencer driven by his discussion of his COVID-19 response plan, including community vaccination sites and continuing paid sick leave. Posters also responded positively to statements by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, Director General, World Health Organization, about the need for mass global vaccinations in the next 100 days. These are signs that key influencers may be able to help alleviate concerns and help address vaccine hesitancy, so that we can get enough people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

Want to learn how CVS Health is addressing vaccine hesitancy and ensuring safe, equitable access? Ask Us
February 16, 2021

The source for data in this document is CVS Health Enterprise Analytics, unless otherwise noted.