Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Healthc Q. 2010;13 Spec No:8-15.

Assessing and responding in real time to online anti-vaccine sentiment during a flu pandemic.

Author information

1
Health Strategy Innovation Cell, Massey College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario. neil.seeman@utoronto.ca

Abstract

The perceived safety of vaccination is an important explanatory factor for vaccine uptake and, consequently, for rates of illness and death. The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate Canadian attitudes around the safety of the H1N1 vaccine during the fall 2009 influenza pandemic and (2) to consider how public health communications can leverage the Internet to counteract, in real time, anti-vaccine sentiment. We surveyed a random sample of 175,257 Canadian web users from October 27 to November 19, 2009, about their perceptions of the safety of the HINI vaccine. In an independent analysis, we also assessed the popularity of online flu vaccine-related information using a tool developed for this purpose. A total of 27,382 unique online participants answered the survey (15.6% response rate). Of the respondents, 23.4% considered the vaccine safe, 41.4% thought it was unsafe and 35.2% reported ambivalence over its safety. Websites and blog posts with anti-vaccine sentiment remained popular during the course of the pandemic. Current public health communication and education strategies about the flu vaccine can be complemented by web analytics that identify, track and neutralize anti-vaccine sentiment on the Internet, thus increasing perceived vaccine safety. Counter-marketing strategies can be transparent and collaborative, engaging online "influencers" who spread misinformation.

PMID:
20959725
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Longwoods Publishing
Loading ...
Support Center