It's no secret that a certain level of public anxiety concerning vaccination exists. In recent weeks, we've seen this issue brought to light with the low level of uptake of the HPV vaccine. I thought I would take a snapshot of the public opinion on vaccination by looking at what members of the public are saying on Twitter.
I defined the search terms to be "Vaccine"/"Vaccines"/"Vaccination" and the time of search to be 9am – 5pm (GMT), Friday 22nd March 2013. I excluded any tweets that weren't made by a member of the public.
Overall, I counted 51 tweets that expressed an opinion (either directly or indirectly) on vaccination. 33 of the tweets expressed a negative opinion, while 18 expressed a positive opinion.
The 5 most common negative views expressed were (n):
- Vaccines are painful (7)
- Vaccines are dangerous (7)
- Suffering from an adverse reaction following a vaccination (4)
- Nervousness about upcoming vaccination (4)
- Price (1)
The 5 most common positive views expressed were:
- Vaccines are effective (4)
- Link to new vaccine trial with positive result (3)
- Anti-vaccination campaigns are wrong (3)
- Vaccines are not painful (2)
- Vaccines are good for travel abroad (1)
On the whole, the majority of opinions expressed on Twitter during the day were negative – largely relating to pain and a fear that vaccines are dangerous. Some tweets expressed a concern that vaccines may threaten genetic integrity, may contain rabies, may cause child death, and may be dangerous and useless. On the other hand, other tweets expressed the view that vaccination was useful for protecting against travel-related diseases, that public concern against vaccination was a manufactured controversy, and that vaccination was effective.
Of course, my â€˜study' was very short and restricted – only one day, on one form of social media. Every day, however, conversations surrounding vaccination happen continuously. Do you think that having an understanding of the public view on vaccination is important? How can the vaccine industry react to public criticism?
You can join our discussion on LinkedIn or leave a comment below, I'd love to hear what you think.
If you're interested in hearing more about strategy and innovation in vaccines, you might like to consider attending the World Vaccine Congress and Expo 2013 on the 16-18 April 2013, Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, Washington DC. You can download the brochure here.