Want to flee the flu this winter? You may be in luck if you use social media. According to a new study from researchers at the School of Public Health, adults who turn to Twitter or Facebook as sources of health information were more likely to get a flu shot than those who don’t use the platforms for this reason.
Published in the journal Vaccine, the study surveyed nearly 1,500 people about their flu vaccination status and knowledge about how the flu vaccine works, use of social media and beliefs regarding prevention and treatment of influenza, along with demographic variables.
The analysis suggests that individuals interested in staying healthy are likely to follow health-related news on social media platforms, and their motivation to stay informed may contribute to higher vaccination rates, in combination with or separately from their use of social media as a source of health information.
“Ours is the first study to examine social media use and vaccine behavior, and we are interested in further exploring the potential of social media to encourage health promoting behaviors,” said Naheed Ahmed, a family science doctoral candidate and lead author of the study. “With more than two-thirds of the U.S. population using Facebook and almost a quarter using Twitter, we could be utilizing these platforms more to increase vaccination rates and to save lives.”