Original Research

Assessing Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy, Confidence and Public Engagement: A social listening study

February 1, 2021

This study examined activity on Twitter and Sina Weibo in June and July 2020 to assess COVID-19 vaccine confidence and hesitancy among social media users in five cities (London, New York, Beijing, Sao Paolo and Mumbai) and to better understand public engagement in communications about COVID-19 vaccines. There was a high level of vaccine hesitancy across social media users, with higher rates in London and New York than in Sao Paolo, Mumbai, and Beijing. London and New York social media users exhibited a lack of confidence in vaccine safety, a distrust of government officials and institutions, and widespread dissemination of rumors and misinformation. Social media users in Sao Paolo, Mumbai, and Beijing expressed more concern about vaccine production and supply, whereas users in New York and London were more concerned about vaccine distribution and equity. Social media posts with negative content had more followers and engagement than posts with positive content. Recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine rollout and communications included the importance of tailoring vaccine communications to local settings, including effective messaging regarding vaccine safety and clarifying rumors and misinformation. There is a need to build a more proactive public health presence on social media platforms.