Covid-19 Vaccine rumors and conspiracy theories: The need for cognitive inoculation against misinformation to improve vaccine adherence
Category:- Journal; Year:- 2021
Discipline:- Sociology Discipline
School:- Social Science School
Rumors and conspiracy theories, can contribute to vaccine hesitancy. Monitoring online data related to COVID-19 vaccine candidates can track vaccine misinformation in real-time and assist in negating its impact. This study aimed to examine COVID-19 vaccine rumors and conspiracy theories circulating on online platforms, understand their context, and then review interventions to manage this misinformation and increase vaccine acceptance.In June 2020, a multi-disciplinary team was formed to review and collect online rumors and conspiracy theories between 31 December 2019–30 November 2020. Sources included Google, Google Fact Check, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, fact-checking agency websites, and television and newspaper websites. Quantitative data were extracted, entered in an Excel spreadsheet, and analyzed descriptively using the statistical package R version 4.0.3. We conducted a content analysis of the qualitative information from news articles, online reports and blogs and compared with findings from quantitative data. Based on the fact-checking agency ratings, information was categorized as true, false, misleading, or exaggerated.We identified 637 COVID-19 vaccine-related items: 91% were rumors and 9% were conspiracy theories from 52 countries. Of the 578 rumors, 36% were related to vaccine development, availability, and access, 20% related to morbidity and mortality, 8% to safety, efficacy, and acceptance, and the rest were other categories. Of the 637 items, 5% (30/) were true, 83% (528/637) were false, 10% (66/637) were misleading, and 2% (13/637) were exaggerated.Rumors and conspiracy theories may lead to mistrust contributing to vaccine hesitancy. Tracking COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in real-time and engaging with social media to disseminate correct information could help safeguard the public against misinformation.