A new study from the University of Illinois Chicago examines key themes and topics from almost three million COVID-19 vaccine-related tweets posted by individuals and explores the trends and variations in public opinions and sentiments about vaccines and vaccination programs.
Covering four months of the pandemic, Jan. 1 to April 30, 2021, the researchers used topic modeling to explore the themes and topics underlying the tweets, and used sentiment analysis to compute sentiment scores and examine weekly trends. Their findings can be found in the journal JMIR Infodemiology.
Our study is uniquely positioned and differs from many other similar studies, as we capture and use the tweets made by the general public, excluding those made by news outlets and other organizations. We have identified changes in public attitudes towards vaccination, key concerns about vaccination , reasons behind vaccine hesitancy and poor uptake of vaccines by certain groups.”
Ranganathan Chandrasekaran, study’s lead author
Ranganathan Chandrasekaran is the professor of information and decision sciences in the College of Business Administration and professor of biomedical and health information sciences in the College of Applied Health Sciences
Some of the key findings include:
The researchers’ qualitative analysis provided some preliminary insights into the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy, such as the shorter duration of the vaccine development cycle, concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine in controlling the virus and its variants, and general mistrust of the pharmaceutical and medical concerns industries and governments.
This type of research based on social media data can provide rich insights for policymakers and health officials to frame appropriate policies and programs for COVID-19 vaccination and accelerate vaccine uptake by the general public, according to the researchers.
Co-authors of the study are Rashi Desai, Harsh Shah and Vivek Kumar of UIC, and Evangelos Moustakas of Middlesex University.
The work was partly funded by the UIC College of Business Administration’s Summer Research Grant Program.
University of Illinois Chicago
Chandrasekaran, R., et al. (2022) Examining Public Sentiments and Attitudes Toward COVID-19 Vaccination: Infoveillance Study Using Twitter Posts. JMIR Infodemiology. doi.org/10.2196/33909.