The COVID-19 Vaccine Social Media infodemic: Healthcare Providers’ Missed Dose in Addressing Misinformation and Vaccine Hesitancy

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social media, vaccine hesitancy, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, health care professional

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, antivaccination social media accounts are proliferating online, threatening to further escalate vaccine hesitancy related to the COVID-19 vaccine. This commentary seeks to alert and encourage the health care provider community, including health care professionals and academic organizations, to engage in social media to counter the mounting vaccine-related infodemic. To validate our recommendation for engagement, the authors describe preliminary findings using a mixed methods approach of quantitative Twitter-based ranking algorithms of networks and users with qualitative content analysis of 1 million tweets related to COVID-19 vaccine conversations. Results show highly polarized and active antivaccine conversations that were primarily influenced by political and nonmedical Twitter users. In contrast, less than 10% of the tweets stemmed from the medical community, demonstrating a lack of active health care professional connectivity in addressing COVID-19 misinformation. The authors introduce the concept of Health Care Provider Social Media Hesitancy to refer to the public health threat of health care providers’ nonaction in providing pro-vaccine and scientific information about the vaccine on social media. The authors conclude by describing multilevel strategies for encouraging health care providers and the medical community to effectively “Tweet up” to combat the mounting threat of vaccine misinformation and hesitancy.

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Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, v. 17, issue 9, p. 2962-2964