Twitter as a sentinel tool to monitor public opinion on vaccination: an opinion mining analysis from September 2016 to August 2017 in Italy

Lara Tavoschi, Filippo Quattrone, Eleonora D'Andrea, Pietro Ducange, Marco Vabanesi, Francesco Marcelloni, Pier Luigi Lopalco
2020 Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics  
Social media have become a common way for people to express their personal viewpoints, including sentiments about health topics. We present the results of an opinion mining analysis on vaccination performed on Twitter from September 2016 to August 2017 in Italy. Vaccine-related tweets were automatically classified as against, in favor or neutral in respect of the vaccination topic by means of supervised machine-learning techniques. During this period, we found an increasing trend in the number
more » ... f tweets on this topic. According to the overall analysis by category, 60% of tweets were classified as neutral, 23% against vaccination, and 17% in favor of vaccination. Vaccine-related events appeared able to influence the number and the opinion polarity of tweets. In particular, the approval of the decree introducing mandatory immunization for selected childhood diseases produced a prominent effect in the social discussion in terms of number of tweets. Opinion mining analysis based on Twitter showed to be a potentially useful and timely sentinel system to assess the orientation of public opinion toward vaccination and, in future, it may effectively contribute to the development of appropriate communication and information strategies.
doi:10.1080/21645515.2020.1714311 pmid:32118519 fatcat:rjtqzd44nfc5veosr73ebyjzm4