In Italy, the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy has increased with time and represents a complex problem that requires a continuous monitoring. Misinformation on media and social media seems to be one of the determinants of the vaccine hesitancy since, for instance, 42.8 percent of Italian citizens used the internet to obtain vaccine information in 2016. This article reports a quantitative analysis of 560 YouTube videos related to the link between vaccines and autism or other serious side effects on children. The analysis revealed that most of the videos were negative in tone and that the annual number of uploaded videos has increased during the considered period, that goes from 27 December 2007 to 31 July 2017, with a peak of 224 videos in the first seven months of 2017. These findings suggest that the public institutions should be more engaged in establishing a web presence in order to provide reliable information, answers, stories, and videos so to respond to questions of the public about vaccination. These actions could be useful to allow citizens to make informed decisions about vaccines so to comply with vaccination regulations.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; YouTube videos; quantitative analysis; social media; vaccine hesitancy.