“First Do No Harm”: Effective Communication About COVID-19 Vaccines

American Public Health Association
May 05, 2021

With effective COVID-19 vaccines in hand, we must now address the spread of information on social media that might encourage vaccine hesitancy. Although misinformation comes in many forms,1 including false claims, disinformation (e.g., deliberately false information), and rumors (e.g., unverified information), social media companies now seek to interdict this objectionable content—for the first time in their history—by removing content explicitly containing conspiracy theories and false or debunked claims about vaccines. Concurrently, social media users routinely disparage “anti-vaxxers” online, conflating a large group of vaccine-hesitant individuals who may be using social media to seek information about vaccination with a potentially much smaller group of “vaccine refusers.”2 Both strategies could cause more harm than good, necessitating a change in strategy informed by a large body of scientific evidence for making online communications about COVID-19 vaccines more effective.

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