Social Media and Health Communication: Vaccine Refusal/Hesitancy

Social Media and Health Communication: Vaccine Refusal/Hesitancy

Asuman Kaya (Eskişehir Technical University, Turkey) and Ozan Bilge Mantar (University of Strathclyde, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6825-5.ch003
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The content presented in the media, especially with the element of fear, appears to be the most important factor in the formation and spreading of phobias related to diseases. Especially when it comes to epidemics, the influence of the media increases remarkably. Individuals now use digital media as the initial reference source, especially on issues related to their health, and tend to see social media as a reference platform. However, uncontrolled information, conspiracy theories, and information pollution spread through social media make the subject difficult to understand; online shared manipulative news, excessive and unfounded information cause fear and panic. These posts about vaccines affect the perception and attitude towards vaccines. In this study, the comments and social media posts will be analysed using content analysis and discourse analysis methods in order to reveal the effect of social media in vaccine rejection and hesitation.
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The “right to health”, which is an individual and social right, is among the second-generation human rights and regulates the responsibilities of the state towards the individual in the field of health services. The right to health, which is included in Article 12 of the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, with the expression “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”, is defined to the individual, but the state is stipulated as a practitioner and it is expected to create the best conditions of access of the individual to the appropriate healthcare. It is thought that the use of the right to health given to the individuals occurs when they are sick. Although this idea was initially valid; today, the meaning attributed to the concepts of illness and health has changed and the individual has started to benefit from the right to health in terms of lifestyle. With this conceptual transformation in the field of health, especially starting from the end of the 19th century, the focus has been on society, and the way to reach social health is pointed out as information gathering and control of the body (Kaya, 2016, p. 96).

Health communication, which can be defined as the work of informing, guiding, persuading individuals, communities, or wider groups of people about health-related issues, also includes the analysis of health policies, as well as activities to prevent or raise awareness of epidemics. Its general purpose is to increase the quality of life of people and society. In other words, the main goal of health communication aims to improve the overall healthiness level of society. Significant gains are achieved by using social marketing, advocacy in the media, public relations, and promotion methods in the context of improving health and spreading across the country. At this stage, health communication is one of the most basic systems that play a role in providing an effective and efficient information flow to institutions and organizations that provide health services during public education campaigns. The field of health communication examines how all elements of the communication process come together on health-related issues (Becerikli, 2013, p. 26; Hoşgör, 2014, p. 51-52).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social media: With the introduction of Web 2.0, it is a media system that enables one-way information sharing to be accessed double-sided and simultaneously. Also social media; refers to the whole of the dialogues and shares that people make with each other on the Internet.

Discourse Analysis: It is a qualitative, interpretative research method used in applied linguistics and social sciences. Because of this interpretation activity, it is also used in the forms of “critical discourse analysis” or “critical discourse analysis”. Critical discourse analysis highlights themes such as power, domination, hegemony, class difference, gender, race, ideology, discrimination, interest, gain, reconstruction, transformation, tradition, social structure, or social order and deals with these issues as a research area.

Health Communication: It is the communication carried out towards target groups regarding health in order to increase the quality of life of the individual and society.

Vaccine: Chemicals that contain very low doses, conjugated, diluted and attenuated pathogenic microorganisms (i.e., viruses, bacteria), and/or their polysaccharides, given to the body to provide immunity against certain diseases.

Immunization Services: It is an important primary health care service carried out to prevent infants, children, or adults from catching these diseases by vaccinating them before the period when the risk of infection is highest.

Vaccine Hesitancy: Although vaccine availability is possible, it means a delay in accepting the administration of some vaccines or not allowing some vaccines to be administered.

Anti-Vaccination/Vaccine Refusal: It is the state of refusing all vaccinations, not getting vaccinated voluntarily.

Vaccination: It is the process of giving antigenic substances to a living thing to develop immunity against diseases.

Immunization: It is the process of protecting the person against disease by vaccination or similar means.

AYMD/Asi Yaptirmaya Mecbur Degilim [Hareketi]: [movement of] I Do Not Have to Be Vaccinated.

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