Analyzing the vaccination debate in social media data Pre- and Post-COVID-19 pandemic
Using a dataset of 11.7 million Tweets from the United States between January 2015 and July 2021, vaccine sentiments (pro-vaccine, anti-vaccine, neutral) were measured and mapped using machine learning techniques. Positive sentiment on social media has a strong correlation with the actual vaccinated population. The rate of “pro-vaccine” sentiment decreased after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, dropping from 61.56% to 56.20%. The percentage of “anti-vaccine” users revealed a modest increase after the outbreak, growing from 20.17% to 23.28%, implying that the outbreak indeed moderately shifted public attitudes towards vaccination. This mapping method is a useful tool to understand vaccination rates and create targeted solutions.