Positive Attitudes Towards COVID-19 Vaccines: A Cross-Country Analysis
Rossouw, S; Greyling, T
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COVID-19 severely impacted world health and, as a consequence of the measures implemented to stop the spread of the virus, also irreversibly damaged the world economy. Research shows that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is the most successful measure to combat the virus and could also address its indirect consequences. However, vaccine hesitancy is growing worldwide and the WHO names this hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to global health. This study investigates the trend in positive attitudes towards vaccines across ten countries since a positive attitude is important. Furthermore, we investigate those variables related to having a positive attitude, as these factors could potentially increase the uptake of vaccines. We derive our text corpus from vaccine-related tweets, harvested in real-time from Twitter. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), we derive the sentiment and emotions contained in the tweets to construct daily time-series data. We analyse a panel dataset spanning both the Northern and Southern hemispheres from 1 February 2021 to 31 July 2021. To determine the relationship between several variables and the positive sentiment (attitude) towards vaccines, we run various models, including POLS, Panel Fixed Effects and Instrumental Variables estimations. Our results show that more information about vaccines’ safety and the expected side effects are needed to increase positive attitudes towards vaccines. Additionally, government procurement and the vaccine rollout should improve. Accessibility to the vaccine should be a priority, and a collective effort should be made to increase positive messaging about the vaccine, especially on social media. The results of this study contribute to the understanding of the emotional challenges associated with vaccine uptake and inform policymakers, health workers, and stakeholders who communicate to the public during infectious disease outbreaks. Additionally, the global fight against COVID-19 might be lost if the attitude towards vaccines is not improved.