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The Effect of Social Media Consumption on Vaccine Attitudes and Action
Justin Yeo and Celine Tran
Division:
Mathematics and Sciences
Department:
Biology, Social Media and Technology
Mentor:
Allissa Blystone
Mentor's e-mail:
ablystone@occ.cccd.edu
Author's e-mail:
jyeo4@student.cccd.edu; ctran427@student.cccd.edu
Abstract:

Vaccines have been responsible for the greatest reductions in worldwide morbidity and mortality. Recent polls conducted in 2020, however, have shown that only 45% of Americans understand that vaccines do not cause autism in children, and only 50% are willing to get an FDA-backed COVID-19 vaccine. This trend of misinformation and vaccine hesitancy among Americans could have devastating implications in the current global pandemic. With social media being one of the most popular sources of information, this research began with the assumption that the increased vaccine-related content on social media would negatively affect the perception of vaccines and increase vaccine hesitancy. A literature review was conducted where various studies and journal articles on the issue were compiled and evaluated, and a 45-minute Zoom interview with Dr. Saahir Khan, an infectious disease expert at USC, was secured. It was found that medical literature has consistently proven that vaccines are safe and effective with serious side-effects being exceedingly rare. However, this truth has been distorted by the prevalence of misinformation circulating without moderation on social media platforms, resulting in decreased vaccine uptake and a more arduous path toward herd immunity. Our findings indicate that social media has a large impact on misinformation consumption and that it is vital for people to be educated on vaccines so as to mitigate the spread of false and inaccurate information.

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