COVID Update: Anti-vaxxers on Twitter/Facebook are a whole different breed from people who haven’t been vaccinated IRL. 1/
In my work to combat misinformation, I learned a lot & got a good read from experts at this while extensively polling & focus grouping what real people who aren’t vaccinated think. 2/…
As with many things, people on these platforms who spew garbage are worth ignoring.

People who have concerns about being vaccinated are well worth listening to. 3/
People with anti-vax messages on SM have more in common with people who spread political misinformation than they do with people who have real concerns about vaccines.

Those commonalities are a bit of a tell. 4/
I won’t share the prototypical propaganda messages but they have a lot in common with other propaganda:
-They manipulate data & graphs or make up data
-They take advantage of algorithms by using key words like needle & infertile 5/
-They appear to be pro vaccine & create unproven anecdotes of side effects (One tell is “I am not anti-vax but…)
-They use “it makes you think” type logic. (“Nine people in the hospital with tremors. Makes you think”) 6/
-Because the mission is only to plant doubt among people already unsure or who have questions, they aim to “just clear the bar” so they avoid radical sounding claims
-They tap into pre-existing beliefs about government tyranny & pharma profits to suggest motives 7/
-They are expert at staying on the line of the kind of message that makes it hard for FB or Twitter to take down by avoiding key words, by making up personal experiences, by adding opinion words & if they’re really targeted, they use code words.
-They coordinate campaigns (often on WhatsApp) so that people feel like they are seeing a swarm of different data on the same topic. 9/
These are the exact same techniques used pre- and post-election. It’s a playbook of manipulation, not people who have serious doubts.

If you told me 90% of the major anti-vax messengers had all gotten safely vaccinated themselves, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. 10/
Many are American generated but tap into Russian networks to spread their posts. We used to call that kind of thing collaboration. 11/
Fortunately that behavior doesn’t represent the people who aren’t vaccinated.

However, it does work. 2/3 of those who haven’t been vaccinated believe one of 5 lies about the vaccine. Social media is the most frequent source of that info. 12/
People who aren’t vaccinated largely speaking fall into 2 categories:
-One, they have questions or concerns about the vaccine
-Two, they aren’t paying much attention or aren’t motivated one way or another

And there is a lot of variability within those groups 13/
We believed in the WH & I believe that it’s important to accept whatever questions people have as legitimate & serious concerns even when they’re based on falsehoods they picked up. 14/
In category 1, many of these people are routinely vaccinated & vaccinate their kids. Their questions are about the COVID vaccine.

Commonly— Long term side effects? Impact on fertility? Rushed process? Change your DNA? Cause COVID? 15/
People who are vaccinated or unvaccinated cluster in communities. So they know people with the same questions. Many don’t have a regular doctor to ask questions to. Rumors spread easily. 16/
Sometimes these are just low level concerns. They are in the “I’d rather not” category & when cases dropped this spring, any of these concerns exceeded the risk they felt from COVID.

With Delta, a number of them are rethinking. FDA approval next week will move even more. 17/
It’s safe to say at a minimum this group— who skew non-college educated, skew white (& yes Republican)— doesn’t trust messages from the government. Local voices matter more— employers, doctors, clergy, small business. Many don’t trust the health care system, incl POC & nurses!18/
The other group generally speaking doesn’t see COVID as much of a threat.

Only 40% of those 18-25 have been vaccinated. Above 25, close to 3 in 4 have. 19/
Much of this group say they would get vaccinated if required by school or jobs. Some who work hourly jobs don’t have easy enough access. 20/
We should have all kinds of time to understand these groups & help them get their questions answered. Antagonizing or shaming people isn’t a great way to treat people & it doesn’t abate the propaganda, it actually aids it. 21/
It’s also important that while they’ve chosen to remain unvaccinated, we protect ppl who can’t be inoculated.

I’ve had to show my vax card or a negative test 3 times this week (in California) & if unvaxxed people aren’t thrilled, that’s OK. 22/
About 25 million people say they would get vaxxed if work, school or venues required it. They are looking for the nudge to settle their uncertainty.

Others of course will strenuously object. A reasonable discourse on this question would be better than more SM fights.23/
People are getting increasingly pushed into camps. Pro or anti— but that’s not how most people approach a complex question like this.

But it serves the social media propagandists well. 24/
The SM platforms are as usual the last to address the problem. They empower those out to do harm.

But those who want to reduce the toll of the pandemic should ignore, not enable these trolls & try to get back to the things we do IRL like listening & talking to each other. /end

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More from @ASlavitt

17 Sep
COVID Update: The FDA is meeting on boosters.

There are a lot of moving pieces. We are monitoring & the head of the FDA is coming on @inthebubblepod Monday.

Follow here if interested today for updates & explanation of what to expect. 1/
As background, the FDA meeting starts today and will hopefully end today.

The CDC will then meet to make recommendations on: age, time, mix-match recommendations, nursing homes, and more. I will address each of these.

It could be a full week before all that is ironed out. 2/
Let me start with where there is certainty & likelihood.

Americans over 65: the evidence says 3 things.
-Booster is safe
-Booster dramatically increases immune response, symptom reduction, hospitalization#
-Seniors have lower levels of immunity after 2nd dose

A no brainer. 3/
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep
COVID Update: There is an amazing array of efforts, some not very visible, to tackle COVID.

If you want to know how COVID plays out, the variables are here. But there’s the fatal flaw: us. 1/
I can try to classify many of the efforts to address COVID as now (high impact progress we are working on now), med term (things underway but not immediate), and long term (potential big game changers). 2/
The now items are critical to saving lives today & reducing the odds of future variants.

Number one on that list is to vaccinate the majority of the globe by the first quarter. 3/
Read 25 tweets
14 Sep
COVID Update: With requirements rolling across the country, I called a company that implemented vaccine requirements last month.

Here is the experience & lessons for the rest of us. 1/
Background first. The company is based in the Midwest with 6000 people.

The workforce has salaried, factory workers and service center workers.

Their starting point was 70% of the staff vaccinated.

The CEO announced that by 10/1 everyone needed to be vaccinated. 2/
The first reaction was a 10% reduction in their employee satisfaction surveys— the first reduction in the history of the company.

Some people were quite upset. So the CEO began to try to understand people’s reasons for being unvaccinated & their objections. 3/
Read 24 tweets
12 Sep
This chart is interesting.
What it says is that Delta is spreading within households (that’s what Secondary Attack Rate means) at the same level as peak flu season.
Note the increase over last September.

It implies at least 3 things we should try to understand better. 1/
First, kids are getting COVID at school and infecting family members.

Policies preventing schools from protecting kids are failing the entire family including seriously at risk adults. 2/
Second, household infections are going to grow over the Fall and early Winter without more layered interventions. 3/
Read 4 tweets
12 Sep
COVID Update: Watching the reactions & meltdowns to the proposal that Americans are required to get vaccinated (or tested) to be around others.

There is so little actually controversial here but the sideshow is first rate. 1/
Real people by large majorities support vaccine requirements. We’ve had them for decades, even centuries with little controversy.

No governor has threatened to light himself on fire & blow himself up (until now). 2/
Like traffic lights, as inconvenient as they sometimes are, people are pretty ok with rules if they do things like keep kids safe, reduce deaths, and allow businesses to be open safely. 3/
Read 20 tweets
9 Sep
COVID Update: After recent FDA approval, society is moving towards, requiring vaccines at a rapid pace.

And that’s about to get another jolt. 1/
Over 5.5 billion vaccines have been administered around the world. Think about this from a safety standpoint. Rare things happen when they occur a few times per MILLION. So we’ve seen it all.

At this point the safety record would have to be called impeccable. 2/
Over 5.5 billion shots, given to people of all ages & health, you would expect everything to occur. Yet there are only very modest & rare adverse events.

Even anti-vax strategies seem to acknowledge this reality. 3/
Read 20 tweets

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