Submitter and Co-author information

Nicholas KinnishFollow

Standing

Undergraduate

Type of Proposal

Oral Research Presentation

Faculty

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Hans V. Hansen

Abstract/Description of Original Work

Should we distrust the COVID-19 vaccine? It should go without saying that scientific consensus supports mass vaccination in the interest of public health. In contrast, public trust in immunization has fallen by over ten percent since 2001, from 89% to 79% (Reinhart, 2021). Until recently, distrust in vaccination remained mainly within the sentiments of fringe groups, conspiracy theorists, and pseudoscience advocates outside of the mainstream consciousness. However, under the global pandemic's strains, these distrustful voices have found a growing audience on social media. Despite the necessary urgency to vaccinate against COVID-19, there is growing evidence that online antivaccination movements have led to increased vaccine hesitancy (DeVerna et al., 2021).

Considering these developments, this paper examines antivaccination arguments at a system level using David Zarefsky's (2019) concepts for evaluating argumentation, since these approaches offer concrete ways of understanding the disagreement between public health’s position, and that of the vaccine hesitant population. This paper first defines the COVID-19 vaccine controversy, employing several strategies to categorize and assess the claims and resolutions put forward by antivaccination advocates. These strategies then inform a discussion concerning the overall case for antivaccination arguments, finding that the key to solving vaccine hesitancy requires new ways to build trust between health officials and the vaccine hesitant. These findings form the basis of a forthcoming Master’s thesis that attempts to construct a trust-based framework for addressing vaccine hesitancy.

References:

@VI_XIII. (2021, March 19). New quality-control investigation on vaccines [link]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/VI_XIII

@VI_XIII. (2021, March 19). Pfizer to pay $2.3 billion for fraudulent marketing [link]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/VI_XIII

Callaway, E. (2020, November 9). What Pfizer's landmark COVID vaccine results mean for the pandemic. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03166-8.

Code Green [@code_green]. (2020). #BigPharma and elitist dogmatic western allopathic medicine make me sick. Twitter. https://twitter.com/code__green/with_replies?lang=en

Bonnevie, E., Gallegos-Jeffrey, A., Goldbarg, J., Byrd, B., & Smyser, J. (2020). Quantifying the rise of vaccine opposition on Twitter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538068.2020.1858222

DeVerna, M., Pierri, F., Truong, B., Bollenbacher, J., Axelrod, D., Loynes, N., Bryden, J. (2021, January 19). CoVaxxy: A global collection of English Twitter posts about COVID-19 vaccines. arXiv.org. https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.07694v1.

@Figment_Imagine. (2021, February 28). 50+million have been vaccinated and not one person has died. Twitter. https://twitter.com/Figment_Imagine/status/1366070192569155587

Goodwin, J. (2020). Should climate scientists fly? Informal Logic, 40(2), 157-203. https://doi.org/10.22329/il.v40i2.6327

Kelly, Julie [@julie_kelly2]. (2021, March 1). My skepticism about COVID vaccine mostly rooted in Pfizer’s shameful politicization of it. [Tweet; thumbnail link to article]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/julie_kelly2/status/1366487531781574659

Nguyen, C. T. (2018). Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Episteme, 17(2), 141–161. https://doi.org/10.1017/epi.2018.32

Reinhart, R. J. (2021, January 14). Fewer in U.S. continue to see vaccines as important. Gallup.com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/276929/fewer-continue-vaccines-important.aspx.

Say no to the Vaccine [@vaccineDenier69]. (2021, February 22). I just don’t like the thought of unapproved vaccines. Twitter. https://twitter.com/vaccineDenier69/status/1364013894696538114

Stoval, Mark [@MarkStoval]. (2021, February 28). If vaccines are so safe and effective, why is it that big pharma is granted immunity from being sued in a court of law? [Tweet; image]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/markstoval/status/1366008108556894208

Walton, D. N. (2009). Argumentation schemes for presumptive reasoning. New York, N.Y: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Zarefsky, D. (2019). The practice of argumentation: Effective reasoning in communication. Cambridge University Press.

Availability

March 29th: unavailable, March 30th: available all day, March 31st: unavailable, April 1st: available after 1:00 pm

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Going Viral? Investigating anti-vaccination arguments from social-media

Should we distrust the COVID-19 vaccine? It should go without saying that scientific consensus supports mass vaccination in the interest of public health. In contrast, public trust in immunization has fallen by over ten percent since 2001, from 89% to 79% (Reinhart, 2021). Until recently, distrust in vaccination remained mainly within the sentiments of fringe groups, conspiracy theorists, and pseudoscience advocates outside of the mainstream consciousness. However, under the global pandemic's strains, these distrustful voices have found a growing audience on social media. Despite the necessary urgency to vaccinate against COVID-19, there is growing evidence that online antivaccination movements have led to increased vaccine hesitancy (DeVerna et al., 2021).

Considering these developments, this paper examines antivaccination arguments at a system level using David Zarefsky's (2019) concepts for evaluating argumentation, since these approaches offer concrete ways of understanding the disagreement between public health’s position, and that of the vaccine hesitant population. This paper first defines the COVID-19 vaccine controversy, employing several strategies to categorize and assess the claims and resolutions put forward by antivaccination advocates. These strategies then inform a discussion concerning the overall case for antivaccination arguments, finding that the key to solving vaccine hesitancy requires new ways to build trust between health officials and the vaccine hesitant. These findings form the basis of a forthcoming Master’s thesis that attempts to construct a trust-based framework for addressing vaccine hesitancy.

References:

@VI_XIII. (2021, March 19). New quality-control investigation on vaccines [link]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/VI_XIII

@VI_XIII. (2021, March 19). Pfizer to pay $2.3 billion for fraudulent marketing [link]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/VI_XIII

Callaway, E. (2020, November 9). What Pfizer's landmark COVID vaccine results mean for the pandemic. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03166-8.

Code Green [@code_green]. (2020). #BigPharma and elitist dogmatic western allopathic medicine make me sick. Twitter. https://twitter.com/code__green/with_replies?lang=en

Bonnevie, E., Gallegos-Jeffrey, A., Goldbarg, J., Byrd, B., & Smyser, J. (2020). Quantifying the rise of vaccine opposition on Twitter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538068.2020.1858222

DeVerna, M., Pierri, F., Truong, B., Bollenbacher, J., Axelrod, D., Loynes, N., Bryden, J. (2021, January 19). CoVaxxy: A global collection of English Twitter posts about COVID-19 vaccines. arXiv.org. https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.07694v1.

@Figment_Imagine. (2021, February 28). 50+million have been vaccinated and not one person has died. Twitter. https://twitter.com/Figment_Imagine/status/1366070192569155587

Goodwin, J. (2020). Should climate scientists fly? Informal Logic, 40(2), 157-203. https://doi.org/10.22329/il.v40i2.6327

Kelly, Julie [@julie_kelly2]. (2021, March 1). My skepticism about COVID vaccine mostly rooted in Pfizer’s shameful politicization of it. [Tweet; thumbnail link to article]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/julie_kelly2/status/1366487531781574659

Nguyen, C. T. (2018). Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Episteme, 17(2), 141–161. https://doi.org/10.1017/epi.2018.32

Reinhart, R. J. (2021, January 14). Fewer in U.S. continue to see vaccines as important. Gallup.com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/276929/fewer-continue-vaccines-important.aspx.

Say no to the Vaccine [@vaccineDenier69]. (2021, February 22). I just don’t like the thought of unapproved vaccines. Twitter. https://twitter.com/vaccineDenier69/status/1364013894696538114

Stoval, Mark [@MarkStoval]. (2021, February 28). If vaccines are so safe and effective, why is it that big pharma is granted immunity from being sued in a court of law? [Tweet; image]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/markstoval/status/1366008108556894208

Walton, D. N. (2009). Argumentation schemes for presumptive reasoning. New York, N.Y: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Zarefsky, D. (2019). The practice of argumentation: Effective reasoning in communication. Cambridge University Press.