January 18, 2022

Research Article “The Impact of Online Misinformation on U.S. COVID-19 Vaccinations” (Preprint)

The following article (preprint) was recently shared on arXiv.


The Impact of Online Misinformation on U.S. COVID-19 Vaccinations


Francesco Pierri
Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy
Indiana University

Brea Perry
Indiana University

Matthew R. DeVerna
Indiana University

Kai-Cheng Yang
Indiana University

Alessandro Flammini
Indiana University

Filippo Menczer
Indiana University

John Bryden
Indiana University



Widespread uptake of COVID-19 vaccines is necessary to achieve herd immunity. However, surveys have found concerning numbers of U.S. adults hesitant or unwilling to be vaccinated. Online misinformation may play an important role in vaccine hesitancy, but we lack a clear picture of the extent to which it will impact vaccination uptake. Here, we study how vaccination rates and vaccine hesitancy are associated with levels of online misinformation about vaccines shared by 1.6 million Twitter users geolocated at the U.S. state and county levels. We find a negative relationship between recent levels of misinformation and daily vaccination rates. Consistently, negative opinions toward vaccines are correlated with misinformation. Vaccine hesitancy is also strongly associated with Republican vote share, but the association between vaccine outcomes and misinformation remains significant when accounting for political as well as demographic and socioeconomic factors. Hesitancy levels in Democratic counties with high misinformation match those in Republican counties. These results suggest that addressing online misinformation must be a key component of interventions aimed to maximize the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns.

Direct to Full Text Article
35 pages; PDF.

See Also: Interactive Resource: CoVaxxy: Visualizing The Relationship Between COVID-19 Vaccine Adoption and Online (Mis)Information

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.