Unveiling the Rise of Antivaccine Influencers Amid COVID-19: Insights From Stephanie Alice Baker, PhD

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Infection Control TodayInfection Control Today, March/April 2024 (Vol.28 No. 2)
Volume 28
Issue 2

Stephanie Alice Baker, PhD, delves into the surge of antivaccine influencers during COVID-19, highlighting their impact on vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.

The appeal of anti-vaccine influencers during the COVID-19 pandemic is a topic that refers to the influence of people who are against vaccines and how they have gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One key opinion leader, Stephanie Alice Baker, PhD, is a senior lecturer in sociology at City, University of London, London, England, and is conducting research on wellness culture and how online influencers build trust with their audience.

In her exclusive discussion with Infection Control Today® (ICT®), Baker gave some insights into the factors or strategies that antivaccine influencers have used to gain traction and influence during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they have contributed to vaccine misinformation, disinformation, and vaccine hesitancy.

“We have seen from many studies that…there has been a drop since the pandemic not only and acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine, but actually across a lot of pediatric vaccines and routine vaccinations,” Baker said. “[This] is obviously very worrying because we already have issues in terms of the MMR [measles, mumps, rubella] vaccination being increasingly popular among the antivaccination movement, and as a result, measles is spreading in many countries where previously it was eradicated.”

Baker also discusses why she thinks antivaccine influencers make incorrect comments. “Influencers, in general, are those who achieve a degree of fame online, primarily commercially, but we shouldn't forget that also, some influencers primarily use their fame for political ends, or also for social plans just for a degree of flavor and clout.”

Baker gives advice on what health care workers can say to combat the misinformation and promote vaccine education. “One is through using the strategies of influencers themselves. And I think this can be achieved in a very sincere way. By using, say, for example, whatever social media platform they're comfortable with or where they feel as though they can reach an audience to share accessible health information and check to basically generate that parasocial relationship that a lot of influencers have with their audience, but as a vehicle to disseminate trustworthy, reliable information.”

(Quotes have been edited for clarity. Watch the video above for everything Baker discusses on vaccine misinformation.)

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