- Six-month study found five insights into the current public view on all types of vaccines
- Messages on social media received more positive response if they focused on personal choices and gratitude for being vaccinated rather than “moral obligations” to do so
- People with low confidence in vaccines have two main concerns: low trust in the system and concerns about side-effects and safety
- Data for the study was gathered from publicly available online sources, including social media and blogs from Q4 2020 up until April 2021
- Read the report
Geneva, Switzerland, 25 May 2021 – A new study released today outlines the public discourse around vaccine confidence.
The research, conducted by the World Economic Forum and NetBase Quid, an analytics platform for consumer and market insights, looked at publicly available content from social media platforms and blogs over a six-month period.
The five key findings are:
Protection top concern: The most compelling reason that people publicly identify for being vaccinated is the ‘protection’ offered by the vaccine. Protection is referenced at least five times as often as other words.
Backlash for moral messaging: Messages that focus on a moral responsibility to get vaccinated, especially coming from visible public figures, can result in a sharp backlash.
Personal gratitude: Responses to images and simple messages around ‘gratitude’ received the most positive responses. Positive communications from health professionals, social media influencers were more effective than those from other groups, particularly politicians.
Low confidence and low trust: People expressing low vaccine confidence appear to align with two broad groups: one group with low confidence in components of the vaccine system, such as the government or pharmaceutical companies, and one group with concerns about how the vaccine will affect their own personal health.
Overall concern: People online rarely distinguish between the types of vaccines, but rather express general concerns that ‘the vaccine’ doesn’t work or is not guaranteed to protect you from COVID-19.
The paper also outlines some of the key drivers of vaccine confidence that underpin these findings, such as trust in government and other institutions, whether people feel like their concerns are being listened to and properly valued, and the different ways that people weigh up the risks and benefits of being vaccinated.
Heidi Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and who advised on the research, said: “The challenge of low vaccine confidence is not new, though it is particularly pressing as governments struggle to contain COVID-19.”
“Ultimately,” said Larson, “this is a challenge that is going to be with us for the long haul. As this report shows, the general public can be highly effective at building vaccine confidence among their friends and family, so we can all play a part in listening to people who have concerns and helping address them. We need an all-of-society approach to protect ourselves and our communities against COVID-19. The trust building needed is beyond vaccines, but building vaccine confidence is an entry point to the many other layers of trust needed moving forward”
Bob Goodson, President and Co-founder of NetBase Quid, said: “One of the unique things about the system we used to analyse this content is that we can deeply understand people’s emotional reactions to messages that they encounter on social media and time-and-again, people react most positively to simple, positive messages about vaccination and negatively to being told what to do.”
Genya Dana, Head of Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum, said: “It is important to come together and engage in dialogue to understand public health concerns. Vaccines represent one of the greatest public health advances in modern times. Their role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic depends in large part on understanding how to meet people where they are and listening to and responding to their questions.”
Notes to editors
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