Association between social media use and the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination among the general population in Saudi Arabia - a cross-sectional study.BMC Public Health. 2022 02 21; 22(1):375.BP
The Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a worldwide global public health threat. Although acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination will be a critical step in combating the pandemic, achieving high uptake will be difficult, and potentially made more difficult by social media misinformation. This study aimed to examine the association between social media use and acceptance of receiving COVID-19 vaccine among the general population in Saudi Arabia.
A cross-sectional study was conducted from June 17 to June 19, 2021 among 504 participants of the general population in Saudi Arabia. The data were collected using a three-part online questionnaire (sociodemographic characteristics, medical and vaccination history, pattern of social media use).
Among 504 participants who completed the survey, 477 participants were acceptant of the vaccine and 27 were non-accepting. A total of 335 individuals had already received the vaccine, 142 were willing to receive the vaccine and 27 were unwilling. One hundred and thirty participants denied using social media for COVID-19 news. Four factors were found to be significant in influencing vaccine acceptance in univariate analysis: having a chronic condition (odds ratio (OR) = 0.367, P = 0.019), believing that infertility is a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine (OR = 0.298, P = 0.009), being concerned about a serious side effect from the vaccine (somewhat concerned: OR = 0.294, P = 0.022, very concerned: OR = 0.017, P < 0.0001), and basing the decision to be vaccinated on social media information (OR = 0.260, P = 0.006). Two of these factors fell away on multivariate analysis: basing the decision on social media information (OR = 0.356, P = 0.071), and a belief that vaccination causes infertility (OR = 0.0333, P = 0.054), suggesting that the associations are dependent on other factors.
In conclusion, there was no significant independent relationship between social media usage and people's willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Further studies to explore the association between social media use and vaccine decisions are required to generalize this observation to the Saudi population.