Objectives: With an uprising influence of social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram a multitude of worldwide accessible information is available. Since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic the exchange of medical information about several topics related to this infectious disease and its vaccination has increased rapidly. The purpose of this investigation was to assess the content associated with COVID-19 vaccination and its side effects and evaluate its educational quality.
Methods: We conducted this retrospective study to investigate 600 Twitter and Instagram posts by #covidvaccinesideeffects due to number of 'likes', comments, type of post, language, its purpose and source. In addition, posts were evaluated due to educational quality by three examiners of different educational levels.
Results: The majority of posts showed 0 to 50 "likes" and 0 to 5 comments in English language. A comparison between Twitter and Instagram by the influence of application showed significant differences in number of posts and "likes" or comments (p < 0.05). The major post type were texts for Twitter (251; 83.7%) and videos for Instagram (104; 34.7%). While a majority of posts by #covidvaccinesideeffects report about the occurrence of side effects, the majority of them were mild and general COVID-19 vaccination feedback during the first 4 months was positive. But, only 3 to 7% were rated by "excellent" educational and validatable content. Interrater reliability between all three examiners presented a high concordance with 89% (p = 0.001).
Conclusions: This study presents an analysis of quantity and quality of social media content according to COVID-19 vaccinations and its side effects. It supports the deduction that most of the content on Twitter and Instagram is shared by patients and unclear sources and thus is limited informative. Nevertheless, influence of social media on medical information especially during COVID-19 pandemic is increasing and practitioners have to face its effect on their patients.
Keywords: Adverse effects; COVID-19; Misinformation; Social media; Vaccination.
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