Intended for healthcare professionals

How are social media influencing vaccination?

Understanding online behaviour and health outcomes

Social media platforms are transforming communication and the ways in which people access information about health. Despite the many benefits of these tools, concerns exist around the capacity for social media to enable proliferation of misinformation or scientifically invalid ideas, particularly around vaccination. How can we draw insights from research conducted using social media to understand its effects on beliefs and behaviours around vaccination, and to influence population health outcomes?

In collaboration with the Advancing Health Online Initiative (AHO), this collection brings together original research examining the diverse relationships between social media use and vaccination beliefs and behaviours globally. The research studies included in this collection were funded through AHO’s Vaccine Confidence Fund. Further Analysis and Opinion articles, commissioned by The BMJ, explore the challenges of carrying out research in this nascent field and in drawing insights for policy action.


We need a gold standard for randomised control trials studying misinformation and vaccine hesitancy on social media
Sander van der Linden argues that research on social media misinformation and vaccine hesitancy needs a stronger framework

How can doctors counter health misinformation on social media?
Doctors can intervene effectively and safely to combat misinformation on social media, argue Leonard Hofstra and Diederik Gommers

Centring health workers and communities is key to building vaccine confidence online
Santi Indra Astuti and colleagues argue that whole-of-society efforts are needed to build an internet ecosystem that helps communities be resilient to future health misinformation challenges


Behavioural interventions to reduce vaccine hesitancy driven by misinformation on social media
Vaccine misinformation on social media has strong effects on behaviour, and the evidence base for interventions to reduce these effects is limited, but better approaches to evidence generation are possible, say Kai Ruggeri and colleagues


Using social media to build confidence in vaccines: lessons from community engagement and social science research in Africa
Sara Cooper and colleagues argue that a better understanding of the complex sociopolitical drivers of distrust in vaccination will increase the potential of social media to rebuild vaccine confidence


Where past meets present: indigenous vaccine hesitancy in Saskatchewan
Community based participatory research explores the value of self-determined solutions to vaccine hesitancy in a First Nations community in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Evaluating the impact of a linguistically and culturally tailored social media ad campaign on covid-19 vaccine uptake among indigenous populations in Guatemala: a pre/post design intervention study
Lucía Abascal Miguel and colleagues report on covid-19 vaccination uptake after release of culturally and linguistically tailored social media videos within a rural, indigenous population in Guatemala.

Jeelo Dobara (Live Life Again): a cross-sectional survey to understand the use of social media and community experience and perceptions around covid-19 vaccine uptake in three low vaccine uptake districts in Karachi, Pakistan
Anokhi Ali Khan and colleagues report on social media use and attitudes and perceptions around covid-19 and vaccination within high-risk, underserved communities in Karachi.


Generative artificial intelligence can have a role in combating vaccine hesitancy
Artificial intelligence has potential to counter vaccine hesitancy, while building trust in vaccines, but must be balanced with ethical and responsible deployment, argue Heidi Larson and Leesa Lin


Effect of a mobile app chatbot and an interactive small group webinar on covid-19 vaccine intention and confidence in Japan: a randomised clinical trial
Takaaki Kobayashi and colleagues report findings from a randomised trial examining the effect of interventions through a mobile app chatbot and webinar on covid-19 vaccination intent in Japanese participants.


Influence of the covid-19 pandemic and social media on the behaviour of pregnant and lactating women towards vaccination: a scoping review
A scoping review carried out by Larissa De Brabandere and colleagues gathers together the findings of existing research, suggesting that vaccine hesitancy in pregnant and lactating women remains a concern.

Feasibility and acceptability of Saheli, a WhatsApp Chatbot, on COVID-19 vaccination among pregnant and breastfeeding women in rural North India
El Ayadi and colleagues see chatbots as a promising health education strategy due to high acceptability and deployment potential.

The collection was proposed by the Advancing Health Online Initiative (AHO), a consortium of partners including Meta and MSD, and several non-profit collaborators. Research articles were submitted following invitations by The BMJ and associated BMJ journals, after consideration by an internal BMJ committee. Peer review, editing, and decisions to publish articles were carried out by the respective BMJ journals. Emma Veitch was the editor for this collection.

Non-research articles were independently commissioned by The BMJ, and we thank our series advisers, Sander van der Linden (chair), Alison Buttenheim, Briony Swire-Thompson, and Charles Shey Wiysonge, for valuable advice and guiding the selection of topics for non-research articles in this series.

AHO is an initiative launched by Meta and MSD in June 2021, and is a fiscally sponsored project of Global Impact. The Vaccine Confidence Fund is managed by Global Impact for AHO and is financially supported by Meta and MSD. Meta and MSD did not participate in the selection of Vaccine Confidence Fund grant recipients nor the selection of the articles for inclusion in the collection. Funding for the collection was provided by Meta through Global Impact.

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