Web-Based, Social Media Interventions May Influence Parental Vaccine Decisions

NOVEMBER 08, 2017
Jennifer Barrett, Assistant Editor
Providing web-based vaccine information with social media components during pregnancy can allay concerns about childhood vaccination, according to a recently-published study in Pediatrics.

According to the researchers, between 10% and 15% of parents choose to delay or refuse 1 or more recommended vaccines for their children. The researchers evaluated a web-based social media intervention to determine its effect on early childhood immunization, noting that interventions that address vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccine acceptance are needed.

In the study, which was conducted between September 2013 and July 2016, 888 pregnant women were randomly assigned to a website with vaccine information and interactive social media components (VSM), a website with vaccine information (VI), or usual care (UC). The researchers assessed vaccination in infants of the participants from birth to age 200 days, with days undervaccinated as the primary outcome.

The information focused on encouraging parents to receive recommended vaccines on time. The researchers aimed to present content that accurately represented the risks and benefits of vaccination, including information on vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccine safety, vaccine laws, the recommended immunization schedule, vaccine ingredients, vaccine development, and basic immunology. This information was then labeled and arranged into short, easy-to-read sections. Sources of the information were referenced and hyperlinked.

Additionally, participants in the VSM arm had access to interactive social media applications, which included a blog, discussion forum, chat room, and “Ask a Question” portal, where participants could directly ask questions to an expert. Each of the social media components provided up-to-date topics about vaccination and allowed participants to interact with vaccine experts.  

Infants of participants in the interactive social media component arm ranked significantly lower in days undervaccinated, but not statistically different between the VI and UC arms. The proportions of infants up-to-date with vaccinations at age 200 days were 92.5, 91.3, and 86.6 in the VSM, VI, and UC arms, respectively. Infants in the VSM group were more likely to be up-to-date than infants in the UC arm.

Overall, the researchers determined that web-based vaccine information and social media intervention had a positive effect on early childhood immunizations, suggesting that interactive, informational online resources could help improve vaccine acceptance.


Glanz JM, Wagner NM, Narwaney KJ, et al. Web-based social media intervention to increase vaccine acceptance: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2017. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-1117.

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