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Facebook and Twitter vaccine sentiment in response to measles outbreaks.

Abstract

Social media posts regarding measles vaccination were classified as pro-vaccination, expressing vaccine hesitancy, uncertain, or irrelevant. Spearman correlations with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-reported measles cases and differenced smoothed cumulative case counts over this period were reported (using time series bootstrap confidence intervals). A total of 58,078 Facebook posts and 82,993 tweets were identified from 4 January 2009 to 27 August 2016. Pro-vaccination posts were correlated with the US weekly reported cases (Facebook: Spearman correlation 0.22 (95% confidence interval: 0.09 to 0.34), Twitter: 0.21 (95% confidence interval: 0.06 to 0.34)). Vaccine-hesitant posts, however, were uncorrelated with measles cases in the United States (Facebook: 0.01 (95% confidence interval: -0.13 to 0.14), Twitter: 0.0011 (95% confidence interval: -0.12 to 0.12)). These findings may result from more consistent social media engagement by individuals expressing vaccine hesitancy, contrasted with media- or event-driven episodic interest on the part of individuals favoring current policy.

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