Health Misinformation on Social Media and its Impact on COVID-19 Vaccine Inoculation in Jordan
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Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
AL-Jalabneh, A.A. (Abd Allah). "Health Misinformation on Social Media and its Impact on COVID-19 Vaccine Inoculation in Jordan". Communication & Society. 36 (1), 2023, 185 - 200
It is vital to understand the nature of misinformation disseminated online regarding the COVID-19 vaccination. This understanding will enhance governments’ efforts and strategies to combat the factors which hinder vaccine uptake. Vaccine hesitancy has always been a challenge which has accompanied vaccine rollouts. Misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccination, along with the ambiguous narratives around the origin of the virus, has played a role in vaccine hesitancy among Jordanians. The online activity generated by social media during the pandemic, due to people’s fear of the virus, their general anxiety and curiosity, and their desire for updates, made social media an even more fertile environment for misinformation than ever before. During the COVID-19 pandemic in Jordan, misinformation on social media platforms amplified the scale of fears around the safety of the vaccination programme. Therefore, this study offers an exploration of, and insight into, the thoughts and experiences of a sample of 30 Jordanian citizens who are hesitant about COVID-19 vaccination. This study uses a qualitative approach in order to further understand vaccine hesitancy and the nature of misinformation surrounding it, using semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with participants. It found that low levels of information about health, misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine, and the spread of misinformation on social media were all causes of vaccine hesitancy in Jordan. Facebook and WhatsApp were the principal social media networks identified in this study as spreading misinformation about the vaccine. The study sample reported that they believed in the conspiracy theories discussed on these two platforms. Furthermore, videos of influencers and anti-vaccination medical doctors from overseas played a part in misleading individuals regarding inoculation against COVID-19. Additionally, other factors were also identified and are discussed in this study.

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