When the first Covid-19 vaccines were administered last week, many frontline health-care workers across the U.S. posted celebratory photos on social media. In what was meant to be a triumphant moment, some found themselves the targets of skeptical or even scornful comments from people opposed to vaccines.
A nurse on Twitter with the handle @saruhhdanae shared thenews with a picture of her getting the Pfizer shot, in a post with eight exclamation points. Soon, amid notes of congratulations and appreciation, came responses from people declaring they would be too afraid to take it, predicting terrible side effects, or worse. “I made a choice for myself and all kinds of people are predicting my death,” she said in a follow-uptweet, noting that she was still happy to be vaccinated.
Now that coronavirus vaccines have been created and distributed in record time, the first people to get it have become de facto onlineambassadors to reassure the public that it’s safe. They’re up against the anti-vaccine movement, which for years has propagated rumors about the dangers of common, safe vaccines in Facebook groups and on Instagram influencer accounts. As U.S. states figure out how to roll out the inoculations as doses trickle in, some people are wondering whether to get it at all, often because they’re scrolling in online communities where emotional anecdotes spread faster than accepted science.
Battles in the online comments are wearing down already-stressed nurses, said Dan Weberg, head of clinical innovation at Trusted Health, which connects travel nurses with hospitals. “After getting beat up for 10 months in the pandemic, now they’re getting beat up on social media for making a choice that could save hundreds of thousands of lives.”
Social media platforms like Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and YouTube are starting to reckon with the role they’ve played in the persistent popularity of vaccine skepticism. Twitter said that starting this week, it will remove any content that spreads vaccine-related conspiracies or false and widely debunked claims about the shot’s effects. By early next year, the company may label incomplete or out-of-context vaccine information with a link to information from health authorities.
Facebook, which has been attempting to keep anti-vaccination groups out of its recommendations to users, said it will start looking at ways to encourage health-care workers who are sharing the positive news of their shots. “As that trend continues, we’re actively looking for ways to promote and support it,” the company said. It’s also updated a Covid-19 information center with vaccine facts.
Alright people, official statement before I throw the whole phone away:
-I’m happy about my choice and thankful to my hospital.
-i don’t have bell’s palsy or any side effects except some soreness.
-Be aware of the effect being a jerk/troll has on others
-Make informed choices!2:52 AM · Dec 16, 2020
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