Social Media Research on Vaccine Hesitancy


Vaccine-preventable diseases are resurging as immunization coverage has decreased, driven by reductions in vaccine confidence and trust. Now a global phenomenon affecting low-, middle-, and high-income countries alike, the COVID-19 pandemic has further eroded trust in public health and catalyzed anti-vaccine sentiment. Its proliferation has been driven by the ubiquitous nature of misinformation and disinformation shared on social media platforms. Social media serves as an important conduit of information, particularly for vaccine hesitant individuals, who are more likely to rely on online information. It also provides an opportunity for health agencies to listen to concerns and engage with communities. As more people turn to social media for vaccine-related information, there is a need to identify and address gaps in our understanding of the relationship between social media and vaccine hesitancy.



Photo by Bart Brouwer. 

The International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) is working collaboratively with the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) to define a research agenda, develop implementation guidelines for low- and middle-income countries to address vaccine hesitancy through social media, and define a set of metrics for evaluation of potential intervention platforms. With Sabin, the following activities will be conducted:

  1. A PRISMA-compliant systematic review of peer-reviewed and other literature guided by Sabin’s gap analysis;
  2. Key informant interviews with representatives across key academic, industry, and advocacy groups;
  3. The development of a social-behavioral research agenda;
  4. Creation of a set of standardized indicators to measure vaccine hesitancy on social media;
  5. Creation of an adaption and implementation framework to target diverse audiences;
  6. And an interdisciplinary workshop to present findings and receive feedback from experts, with representation from the global south.