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People's Willingness to Vaccinate Against COVID-19 Despite Their Safety Concerns: Twitter Poll Analysis.
J Med Internet Res. 2021 04 29; 23(4):e28973.JM

Abstract

BACKGROUND

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization's Emergency Committee declared the rapid, worldwide spread of COVID-19 a global health emergency. Since then, tireless efforts have been made to mitigate the spread of the disease and its impact, and these efforts have mostly relied on nonpharmaceutical interventions. By December 2020, the safety and efficacy of the first COVID-19 vaccines were demonstrated. The large social media platform Twitter has been used by medical researchers for the analysis of important public health topics, such as the public's perception on antibiotic use and misuse and human papillomavirus vaccination. The analysis of Twitter-generated data can be further facilitated by using Twitter's built-in, anonymous polling tool to gain insight into public health issues and obtain rapid feedback on an international scale. During the fast-paced course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Twitter polling system has provided a viable method for gaining rapid, large-scale, international public health insights on highly relevant and timely SARS-CoV-2-related topics.

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to understand the public's perception on the safety and acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines in real time by using Twitter polls.

METHODS

We developed 2 Twitter polls to explore the public's views on available COVID-19 vaccines. The surveys were pinned to the Digital Health and Patient Safety Platform Twitter timeline for 1 week in mid-February 2021, and Twitter users and influencers were asked to participate in and retweet the polls to reach the largest possible audience.

RESULTS

The adequacy of COVID-19 vaccine safety (ie, the safety of currently available vaccines; poll 1) was agreed upon by 1579 out of 3439 (45.9%) Twitter users. In contrast, almost as many Twitter users (1434/3439, 41.7%) were unsure about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Only 5.2% (179/3439) of Twitter users rated the available COVID-19 vaccines as generally unsafe. Poll 2, which addressed the question of whether users would undergo vaccination, was answered affirmatively by 82.8% (2862/3457) of Twitter users, and only 8% (277/3457) categorically rejected vaccination at the time of polling.

CONCLUSIONS

In contrast to the perceived high level of uncertainty about the safety of the available COVID-19 vaccines, we observed an elevated willingness to undergo vaccination among our study sample. Since people's perceptions and views are strongly influenced by social media, the snapshots provided by these media platforms represent a static image of a moving target. Thus, the results of this study need to be followed up by long-term surveys to maintain their validity. This is especially relevant due to the circumstances of the fast-paced pandemic and the need to not miss sudden rises in the incidence of vaccine hesitancy, which may have detrimental effects on the pandemic's course.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Division of Pediatric Nephrology and Gastroenterology, Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Comprehensive Center for Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Patient Safety, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.Section for Outcomes Research, Center for Medical Statistics, Informatics, and Intelligent Systems, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Arthritis and Rehabilitation, Vienna, Austria.College of Medicine, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Prevention, Salzburg, Austria.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Prevention, Salzburg, Austria. Department of Health Promotion, Care and Public Health Research Institute, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Patient Safety, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Patient Safety, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Patient Safety, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Department of Anaesthesia, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Patient Safety, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Institute for Ethics and Law in Medicine, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Patient Safety, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Department of Anaesthesia, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Health and Patient Safety, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Institute of Genetics and Animal Biotechnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Jastrzebiec, Poland. Department of Pharmacognosy, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

33872185

Citation

Eibensteiner, Fabian, et al. "People's Willingness to Vaccinate Against COVID-19 Despite Their Safety Concerns: Twitter Poll Analysis." Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol. 23, no. 4, 2021, pp. e28973.
Eibensteiner F, Ritschl V, Nawaz FA, et al. People's Willingness to Vaccinate Against COVID-19 Despite Their Safety Concerns: Twitter Poll Analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2021;23(4):e28973.
Eibensteiner, F., Ritschl, V., Nawaz, F. A., Fazel, S. S., Tsagkaris, C., Kulnik, S. T., Crutzen, R., Klager, E., Völkl-Kernstock, S., Schaden, E., Kletecka-Pulker, M., Willschke, H., & Atanasov, A. G. (2021). People's Willingness to Vaccinate Against COVID-19 Despite Their Safety Concerns: Twitter Poll Analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(4), e28973. https://doi.org/10.2196/28973
Eibensteiner F, et al. People's Willingness to Vaccinate Against COVID-19 Despite Their Safety Concerns: Twitter Poll Analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2021 04 29;23(4):e28973. PubMed PMID: 33872185.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - People's Willingness to Vaccinate Against COVID-19 Despite Their Safety Concerns: Twitter Poll Analysis. AU - Eibensteiner,Fabian, AU - Ritschl,Valentin, AU - Nawaz,Faisal A, AU - Fazel,Sajjad S, AU - Tsagkaris,Christos, AU - Kulnik,Stefan Tino, AU - Crutzen,Rik, AU - Klager,Elisabeth, AU - Völkl-Kernstock,Sabine, AU - Schaden,Eva, AU - Kletecka-Pulker,Maria, AU - Willschke,Harald, AU - Atanasov,Atanas G, Y1 - 2021/04/29/ PY - 2021/03/20/received PY - 2021/04/17/accepted PY - 2021/04/17/revised PY - 2021/4/20/pubmed PY - 2021/5/19/medline PY - 2021/4/19/entrez KW - COVID-19 KW - SARS-CoV-2 KW - Twitter KW - concern KW - coronavirus KW - hesitancy KW - opinion KW - perception KW - public health KW - safety KW - social media KW - survey KW - vaccination KW - vaccination hesitancy KW - vaccination willingness KW - vaccine KW - vaccine confidence KW - willingness SP - e28973 EP - e28973 JF - Journal of medical Internet research JO - J Med Internet Res VL - 23 IS - 4 N2 - BACKGROUND: On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization's Emergency Committee declared the rapid, worldwide spread of COVID-19 a global health emergency. Since then, tireless efforts have been made to mitigate the spread of the disease and its impact, and these efforts have mostly relied on nonpharmaceutical interventions. By December 2020, the safety and efficacy of the first COVID-19 vaccines were demonstrated. The large social media platform Twitter has been used by medical researchers for the analysis of important public health topics, such as the public's perception on antibiotic use and misuse and human papillomavirus vaccination. The analysis of Twitter-generated data can be further facilitated by using Twitter's built-in, anonymous polling tool to gain insight into public health issues and obtain rapid feedback on an international scale. During the fast-paced course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Twitter polling system has provided a viable method for gaining rapid, large-scale, international public health insights on highly relevant and timely SARS-CoV-2-related topics. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to understand the public's perception on the safety and acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines in real time by using Twitter polls. METHODS: We developed 2 Twitter polls to explore the public's views on available COVID-19 vaccines. The surveys were pinned to the Digital Health and Patient Safety Platform Twitter timeline for 1 week in mid-February 2021, and Twitter users and influencers were asked to participate in and retweet the polls to reach the largest possible audience. RESULTS: The adequacy of COVID-19 vaccine safety (ie, the safety of currently available vaccines; poll 1) was agreed upon by 1579 out of 3439 (45.9%) Twitter users. In contrast, almost as many Twitter users (1434/3439, 41.7%) were unsure about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Only 5.2% (179/3439) of Twitter users rated the available COVID-19 vaccines as generally unsafe. Poll 2, which addressed the question of whether users would undergo vaccination, was answered affirmatively by 82.8% (2862/3457) of Twitter users, and only 8% (277/3457) categorically rejected vaccination at the time of polling. CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to the perceived high level of uncertainty about the safety of the available COVID-19 vaccines, we observed an elevated willingness to undergo vaccination among our study sample. Since people's perceptions and views are strongly influenced by social media, the snapshots provided by these media platforms represent a static image of a moving target. Thus, the results of this study need to be followed up by long-term surveys to maintain their validity. This is especially relevant due to the circumstances of the fast-paced pandemic and the need to not miss sudden rises in the incidence of vaccine hesitancy, which may have detrimental effects on the pandemic's course. SN - 1438-8871 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/33872185/People's_Willingness_to_Vaccinate_Against_COVID_19_Despite_Their_Safety_Concerns:_Twitter_Poll_Analysis_ L2 - https://www.jmir.org/2021/4/e28973/ DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -