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Advocacy, Hesitancy, and Equity: Exploring U.S. Race-Related Discussions of the COVID-19 Vaccine on Twitter


Our study aimed to describe themes of tweets related to COVID-19 vaccines, race, and ethnicity to explore the context of the intersection of these topics on Twitter. We utilized Twitter's Streaming Application Programming Interface (API) to collect a random 1% sample of publicly available tweets from October 2020 to January 2021. The study team conducted a qualitative content analysis from the full data set of 1110 tweets. The tweets revealed vaccine support through vaccine affirmation, advocacy through reproach, a need for a vaccine, COVID-19 and racism, vaccine development and efficacy, racist vaccine humor, and news updates. Vaccine opposition was demonstrated through direct opposition, vaccine hesitancy, and adverse reactions. Conspiracy and misinformation included scientific misinformation, political misinformation, beliefs about immunity and protective behaviors, and race extermination conspiracy. Equity and access focused on overcoming history of medical racism, pointing out health disparities, and facilitators to vaccine access. Representation touted pride in development and role models, and politics discussed the role of politics in vaccines and international politics. Our analysis demonstrates that Twitter can provide nuances about multiple viewpoints on the vaccine related to race and ethnicity and can be beneficial in contributing to insights for public health messaging.

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