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Vaccine. 2015 Feb 18;33(8):1063-70. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.12.064. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

Vaccine-criticism on the internet: new insights based on French-speaking websites.

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Université Paris Diderot, UMR 8236 (LIED), Paris, France; INSERM, UMR 912 (SESSTIM), Marseille, France. Electronic address:
INSERM, UMR 912 (SESSTIM), Marseille, France; Aix Marseille University, UMR S912, IRD, Marseille, France; ORS PACA, Observatoire régional de la santé Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Marseille, France.
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases, London, United Kingdom.
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique, Rennes, France.


The internet is playing an increasingly important part in fueling vaccine related controversies and in generating vaccine hesitant behaviors. English language Antivaccination websites have been thoroughly analyzed, however, little is known of the arguments presented in other languages on the internet. This study presents three types of results: (1) Authors apply a time tested content analysis methodology to describe the information diffused by French language vaccine critical websites in comparison with English speaking websites. The contents of French language vaccine critical websites are very similar to those of English language websites except for the relative absence of moral and religious arguments. (2) Authors evaluate the likelihood that internet users will find those websites through vaccine-related queries on a variety of French-language versions of google. Queries on controversial vaccines generated many more vaccine critical websites than queries on vaccination in general. (3) Authors propose a typology of vaccine critical websites. Authors distinguish between (a) websites that criticize all vaccines ("antivaccine" websites) and websites that criticize only some vaccines ("vaccine-selective" websites), and between (b) websites that focus on vaccines ("vaccine-focused" websites) and those for which vaccines were only a secondary topic of interest ("generalist" websites). The differences in stances by groups and websites affect the likelihood that they will be believed and by whom. This study therefore helps understand the different information landscapes that may contribute to the variety of forms of vaccine hesitancy. Public authorities should have better awareness and understanding of these stances to bring appropriate answers to the different controversies about vaccination.


Anti-vaccine websites; Content analysis; French Language; Internet; Vaccine criticism

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