+1 Recommend
2 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Prepandemic Antivaccination Websites' COVID-19 Vaccine Behavior: Content Analysis of Archived Websites

      , MLiS, PhD 1 , , , MSLS 1 , , MA, MLiS 1
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR Formative Research
      JMIR Publications
      antivaccination behavior, web archiving, content analysis, COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19, vaccine, website, web, pandemic, safety, science, content

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.



          The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the concurrent development of vaccines offered a rare and somewhat unprecedented opportunity to study antivaccination behavior as it formed over time via the use of archived versions of websites.


          This study aims to assess how existing antivaccination websites modified their content to address COVID-19 vaccines and pandemic restrictions.


          Using a preexisting collection of 25 antivaccination websites curated by the IvyPlus Web Collection Program prior to the pandemic and crawled every 6 months via Archive-It, we conducted a content analysis to see how these websites acknowledged or ignored COVID-19 vaccines and pandemic restrictions. Websites were assessed for financial behaviors such as having storefronts, mention of COVID-19 vaccines in general or by manufacturer name, references to personal freedom such as masking, safety concerns like side effects, and skepticism of science.


          The majority of websites addressed COVID-19 vaccines in a negative fashion, with more websites making appeals to personal freedom or expressing skepticism of science than questioning safety. This can potentially be attributed to the lack of available safety data about the vaccines at the time of data collection. Many of the antivaccination websites we evaluated actively sought donations and had a membership option, evidencing these websites have financial motivations and actively build a community around these issues. The content analysis also offered the opportunity to test the viability of archived websites for use in scholarly research. The archived versions of the websites had significant shortcomings, particularly in search functionality, and required supplementation with the live websites. For web archiving to be a viable source of stand-alone content for research, the technology needs to make significant improvements in its capture abilities.


          In summary, we found antivaccination websites existing prior to the COVID-19 pandemic largely adapted their messaging to address COVID-19 vaccines with very few sites ignoring the pandemic altogether. This study also demonstrated the timely and significant need for more robust web archiving capabilities as web-based environments become more ephemeral and unstable.

          Related collections

          Most cited references39

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found
          Is Open Access

          Attitudes to vaccination: a critical review.

          This paper provides a consolidated overview of public and healthcare professionals' attitudes towards vaccination in Europe by bringing together for the first time evidence across various vaccines, countries and populations. The paper relies on an extensive review of empirical literature published in English after 2009, as well as an analysis of unpublished market research data from member companies of Vaccines Europe. Our synthesis suggests that hesitant attitudes to vaccination are prevalent and may be increasing since the influenza pandemic of 2009. We define hesitancy as an expression of concern or doubt about the value or safety of vaccination. This means that hesitant attitudes are not confined only to those who refuse vaccination or those who encourage others to refuse vaccination. For many people, vaccination attitudes are shaped not just by healthcare professionals but also by an array of other information sources, including online and social media sources. We find that healthcare professionals report increasing challenges to building a trustful relationship with patients, through which they might otherwise allay concerns and reassure hesitant patients. We also find a range of reasons for vaccination attitudes, only some of which can be characterised as being related to lack of awareness or misinformation. Reasons that relate to issues of mistrust are cited more commonly in the literature than reasons that relate to information deficit. The importance of trust in the institutions involved with vaccination is discussed in terms of implications for researchers and policy-makers; we suggest that rebuilding this trust is a multi-stakeholder problem requiring a co-ordinated strategy.
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            A postmodern Pandora's box: anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet.

            Anna Kata (2010)
            The Internet plays a large role in disseminating anti-vaccination information. This paper builds upon previous research by analyzing the arguments proffered on anti-vaccination websites, determining the extent of misinformation present, and examining discourses used to support vaccine objections. Arguments around the themes of safety and effectiveness, alternative medicine, civil liberties, conspiracy theories, and morality were found on the majority of websites analyzed; misinformation was also prevalent. The most commonly proposed method of combating this misinformation is through better education, although this has proven ineffective. Education does not consider the discourses supporting vaccine rejection, such as those involving alternative explanatory models of health, interpretations of parental responsibility, and distrust of expertise. Anti-vaccination protestors make postmodern arguments that reject biomedical and scientific "facts" in favour of their own interpretations. Pro-vaccination advocates who focus on correcting misinformation reduce the controversy to merely an "educational" problem; rather, these postmodern discourses must be acknowledged in order to begin a dialogue. Copyright (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm--an overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement.

              A Kata (2012)
              Websites opposing vaccination are prevalent on the Internet. Web 2.0, defined by interaction and user-generated content, has become ubiquitous. Furthermore, a new postmodern paradigm of healthcare has emerged, where power has shifted from doctors to patients, the legitimacy of science is questioned, and expertise is redefined. Together this has created an environment where anti-vaccine activists are able to effectively spread their messages. Evidence shows that individuals turn to the Internet for vaccination advice, and suggests such sources can impact vaccination decisions - therefore it is likely that anti-vaccine websites can influence whether people vaccinate themselves or their children. This overview examines the types of rhetoric individuals may encounter online in order to better understand why the anti-vaccination movement can be convincing, despite lacking scientific support for their claims. Tactics and tropes commonly used to argue against vaccination are described. This includes actions such as skewing science, shifting hypotheses, censoring dissent, and attacking critics; also discussed are frequently made claims such as not being "anti-vaccine" but "pro-safe vaccines", that vaccines are toxic or unnatural, and more. Recognizing disingenuous claims made by the anti-vaccination movement is essential in order to critically evaluate the information and misinformation encountered online. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Form Res
                JMIR Form Res
                JMIR Formative Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                11 January 2023
                11 January 2023
                : 7
                [1 ] Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives Durham, NC United States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Samantha Kaplan samantha.kaplan@ 123456duke.edu
                ©Samantha Kaplan, Megan von Isenburg, Lucy Waldrop. Originally published in JMIR Formative Research (https://formative.jmir.org), 11.01.2023.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Formative Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://formative.jmir.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                antivaccination behavior,web archiving,content analysis,covid-19 vaccines,covid-19,vaccine,website,web,pandemic,safety,science,content


                Comment on this article