Positive attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines:
A cross-country analysis
Pacific Standard Time (PST) WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2:00 pm
New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT) THURSDAY FEBRUARY 10, 11:00 AM
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, as steps must be taken to improve the trend over time. Furthermore, we investigate those variables related to having a positive attitude, as these factors could potentially increase the uptake of vaccines. We derive our corpus data from vaccine-related tweets, harvested in real-time from Twitter. Using Natural Language Processing, 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 1 August 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 related to the safety and side-effects of the vaccines are needed to improve 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 are of the utmost importance to 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.
Stephanié Rossouw is a senior lecturer in Economics with the School for Social Science and Public Policy at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. Her primary area of expertise lies with well-being economics, with secondary interests in development economics. She co-developed the first real-time measure of a nation’s evaluative mood using Big Data. Subsequently, she is the country director of the Gross National Happiness Today Project (GNH. Today).
Talita Greyling is an Associate Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. She specializes in well-being economics and quality of life studies and has a keen interest in fourth industrial revolution applications. She developed the initial "Happiness Index" using Big Data. Consequently, she partnered with Dr Stephanie Rossouw and established the Gross National Happiness.today Project (GNH.today), which continuously research and develop the index. The project received the Vice Chancellor's Distinguished Award for Innovation.
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