Revealing Public Opinion Towards COVID-19 Vaccines With Twitter Data in the United States: Spatiotemporal Perspective
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a large, initially uncontrollable, public health crisis both in the United States and across the world, with experts looking to vaccines as the ultimate mechanism of defense. The development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines have been rapidly advancing via global efforts. Hence, it is crucial for governments, public health officials, and policy makers to understand public attitudes and opinions towards vaccines, such that effective interventions and educational campaigns can be designed to promote vaccine acceptance.
Objective:The aim of this study was to investigate public opinion and perception on COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. We investigated the spatiotemporal trends of public sentiment and emotion towards COVID-19 vaccines and analyzed how such trends relate to popular topics found on Twitter.
Methods: We collected over 300,000 geotagged tweets in the United States from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021. We examined the spatiotemporal patterns of public sentiment and emotion over time at both national and state scales and identified 3 phases along the pandemic timeline with sharp changes in public sentiment and emotion. Using sentiment analysis, emotion analysis (with cloud mapping of keywords), and topic modeling, we further identified 11 key events and major topics as the potential drivers to such changes.
Results: An increasing trend in positive sentiment in conjunction with a decrease in negative sentiment were generally observed in most states, reflecting the rising confidence and anticipation of the public towards vaccines. The overall tendency of the 8 types of emotion implies that the public trusts and anticipates the vaccine. This is accompanied by a mixture of fear, sadness, and anger. Critical social or international events or announcements by political leaders and authorities may have potential impacts on public opinion towards vaccines. These factors help identify underlying themes and validate insights from the analysis.
Conclusions: The analyses of near real-time social media big data benefit public health authorities by enabling them to monitor public attitudes and opinions towards vaccine-related information in a geo-aware manner, address the concerns of vaccine skeptics, and promote the confidence that individuals within a certain region or community have towards vaccines.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Published in Journal of Medical Internet Research, Volume 23, Issue 9, 2021, pages e30854-.
©Tao Hu, Siqin Wang, Wei Luo, Mengxi Zhang, Xiao Huang, Yingwei Yan, Regina Liu, Kelly Ly, Viraj Kacker, Bing She, Zhenlong Li. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 10.09.2021.
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Hu, T., Wang, S., Luo, W., Zhang, M., Huang, X., Yan, Y., Liu, R., Ly, K., Kacker, V., She, B., & Li, Z. (2021). Revealing public opinion towards covid-19 vaccines with Twitter data in the United States: Spatiotemporal Perspective. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(9). https://doi.org/10.2196/30854