Vaccine Misinformation, Hesitancy, and Reaching Historically Marginalized Groups: Partnering with Social Media Influencers

Thursday, July 20, 2023: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Centennial Ballroom II (Hyatt Regency Downtown Atlanta)
Vaccine hesitancy is higher in communities of color, where generations of systemic racism and marginalization have led to mistrust in the healthcare system, and vaccines specifically. Despite decades of research investigating impactful messengers and messages to reduce vaccine hesitancy in populations, little is still known about how social media influencers, a new type of trusted messenger, write about vaccines and how their followers respond to these messages. This panel will review the methods and findings from two intervention-based studies that partnered with social media influencers of color and assessed the impact of their messages on their followers’ knowledge of, attitudes towards, and behaviors related to two different vaccines – the COVID-19 vaccine and the HPV vaccine. The studies had two aims: 1) to understand how to create pro-vaccine messages that reach and resonate with minority communities; and 2) to assess how social media messages and messengers impact vaccine acceptance in these communities. 20 social media influencers (10 in each study) who almost exclusively write for Black, Hispanic, or Native American audiences, developed unique posts, exposure to which was measured using baseline and endpoint surveys with a sample of their followers. Interviews with the influencers as well as their posts were qualitatively analyzed. Findings from the quantitative analyses indicate that exposure to these messages can increase knowledge and intention to vaccinate. Qualitative analyses revealed differences between how influencers frame messages COVID and HPV vaccination messages. Approaches and best practices for working with influencers on vaccination-related projects will also be shared.

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