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Social Media Trends Can Predict Tipping Points in Vaccine Scares

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A baby being vaccinated.

Trends on Twitter and Google can help predict vaccine scares, according to University of Waterloo researchers.

Credit: Meningitis Now

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada found analyzing trends on Twitter and Google helped predict vaccine scares.

The researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) and a mathematical model to analyze Google searchers and geocoded tweets, producing data that described the public perceptions of the value of getting vaccinated and indicating when a population was approaching a tipping point.

"By monitoring people's attitudes towards vaccinations on social media, public health organizations may have the opportunity to direct their resources to areas most likely to experience a population-wide vaccine scare, and prevent it before it starts," says University of Waterloo professor Chris Bauch.

The researchers focused on tweets mentioning the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and classified their sentiment using AI software.

The researchers also collected data on measles-related Google searches, and the mathematical model predicted how the 2014-2015 Disneyland outbreak helped push California back from the tipping point by making residents more afraid of the disease than the vaccine.

From University of Waterloo News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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