Role of Mass Media and Public Health Communications in COVID-19 Vaccination

Main Article Content

Ayesha Anwar, MD Meryem Malik, MD Vaneeza Raees Maryem Anwar, MBBS, MRCGP Anjum Anwar, MD


Vaccines offer life-saving protection against diseases and keep us safe from the harmful effects. The speedy development of vaccines during COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the coronavirus’s transmissibility and severity. COVID-19 vaccine development was challenging but the global scientific collaboration and use of resources including extensive funding made it possible. COVID-19 vaccines were deployed in controlled phases for general public use, initially offering them to the first responders and those vulnerable to life threatening effects of virus. However, it was observed that the general population has widespread vaccine hesitancy. Mass media plays a critical role in influencing people’s attitudes and practices. A common man cannot comprehend correlation from causation and jumps to conclusions. Media has the power to unite the world on one platform for a common cause. It is a source for the public to seek information, but like a double ended sword, this platform that provides information, also gives misinformation. On one hand, the public uses the media to seek information for vaccine safety and efficacy and on the other hand, to propagate unverified conspiracies against vaccines. In this review, we analyze the role of mass media and public health communications in COVID-19 vaccination from December 11, 2020, to September 15, 2021, and draw scientific inferences. We have discussed vaccine hesitancy and some prominent reasons that instil fear among the public, including the implausible claims of vaccines being the carriers of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) microchips, impairing the reproductive systems, converting humans to hybrids, and the misconceptions about herd immunity. A consequential role of media was observed in keeping the world updated and motivated by tracking the vaccine number, distribution and deployment through live dashboards. We saw an upward trend in vaccination numbers with media campaigns, social media vaccination surveys, and socio-medico evidence. Thus, we have proposed a model for developing public awareness and health promotion using media as a tool for better distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. With this, health organizations can gain widespread public trust, manage anti-vaccine movements, overcome threats faced due to vaccine conspiracy theories and eventually overcome the COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Article Details

How to Cite
ANWAR, Ayesha et al. Role of Mass Media and Public Health Communications in COVID-19 Vaccination. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 2, feb. 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 mar. 2023. doi:
Research Articles


1. Su S, Du L, Jiang S. Learning from the past: development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Nature Reviews Microbiology. Published online October 16, 2020. doi:10.1038/s41579-020-00462-y
2. COVID-19 Vaccines. FDA. Published online October 9, 2020.
3. Gurdasani D, Drury J, Greenhalgh T, et al. Mass infection is not an option: we must do more to protect our young. The Lancet. 2021;398(10297):297-298. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(21)01589-0
4. America has wasted at least 15 million Covid vaccine doses since March, new data shows. NBC News.
5. Ottwell R, Puckett M, Rogers T, Nicks S, Vassar M. Sensational media reporting is common when describing COVID-19 therapies, detection methods, and vaccines. Journal of Investigative Medicine. 2021;69(6):1256-1257. doi:10.1136/jim-2020-001760
6. Anwar A, Malik M, Raees V, Anwar A. Role of Mass Media and Public Health Communications in the COVID-19 Pandemic. Cureus. 2020;12(9). doi:10.7759/cureus.10453
7. Schwartz JL. New Media, Old Messages: Themes in the History of Vaccine Hesitancy and Refusal. AMA Journal of Ethics. 2012;14(1):50-55. doi:10.1001/virtualmentor.2012.14.1.mhst1-1201
8. Freeman D, Loe BS, Yu LM, et al. Effects of different types of written vaccination information on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK (OCEANS-III): a single-blind, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Public Health. 2021;6(6). doi:10.1016/s2468-2667(21)00096-7
9. Patten D, Green A, Bown D, Russell C. Covid-19: Use social media to maximise vaccine confidence and uptake. BMJ. Published online January 26, 2021:n225. doi:10.1136/bmj.n225
10. Hoffman J. Mistrust of a Coronavirus Vaccine Could Imperil Widespread Immunity. The New York Times. Published July 18, 2020.
11. How have Covid-19 vaccines been made quickly and safely? | News. Wellcome. Published January 21, 2021.
12. Li YD, Chi WY, Su JH, Ferrall L, Hung CF, Wu TC . Coronavirus vaccine development: from SARS and MERS to COVID-19. Journal of Biomedical Science. 2020;27(1). doi:10.1186/s12929-020-00695-2
13. Hixenbaugh M. Scientists were close to a coronavirus vaccine years ago. Then the money dried up. NBC News. Published March 5, 2020.
14. Fauzia M. Fact check: Disappearing needle in COVID-19 vaccination video is standard equipment. USA TODAY. Accessed July 4, 2022.
15. Misinformation, conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccine circulate on social media. Published December 20, 2020. Accessed July 4, 2022.
16. Retractable Technologies, Inc. VanishPoint® Syringe. YouTube. Published online October 2, 2020. Accessed March 19, 2022.
17. Covid vaccine: “Disappearing” needles and other rumours debunked. BBC News. Published December 20, 2020.
18. One more step. Accessed July 4, 2022
19. Staff R. Fact check: RFID microchips will not be injected with the COVID-19 vaccine, altered video features Bill and Melinda Gates and Jack Ma. Reuters. Published December 4, 2020.
20. The difference between what Republicans and Democrats believe to be true about COVID-19 | YouGov.
21. Professor Clancy and PhD alumna Katie Lee launch research on menstruation and COVID-19 vaccine | Anthropology at Illinois. Accessed July 13, 2022.
22. Twitter. Accessed July 13, 2022.
23. Morris RS. SARS-CoV-2 spike protein seropositivity from vaccination or infection does not cause sterility. F&S Reports. 2021;2(3). doi:10.1016/j.xfre.2021.05.010
24. Gray KJ, Bordt EA, Atyeo C, et al. COVID-19 vaccine response in pregnant and lactating women: a cohort study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Published online March 26, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2021.03.023
25. Golan Y, Prahl M, Cassidy A, et al. Evaluation of Messenger RNA From COVID-19 BTN162b2 and mRNA-1273 Vaccines in Human Milk. JAMA Pediatrics. Published online July 6, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.1929
26. Kelen GD, Maragakis L. COVID-19 Vaccines: Myth Versus Fact. Published September 23, 2021. diseases/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines-myth-versus-fact
27. Cassata C. Doctors Debunk Popular COVID-19 Vaccine Myths and Conspiracy Theories. Healthline. Published June 22, 2021.
28. CDC. COVID-19 Vaccine Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 19, 2022. Accessed July 13, 2022.
29. COVID-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker. Milken Institute; March 20, 2020. Accessed July 13, 2022.
30. Draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines.
31. Mathieu E, Ritchie H, Ortiz-Ospina E, et al. A global database of COVID-19 vaccinations. Nature Human Behaviour. 2021;5. doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01122-8
32. Vaccines. Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
33. Liu Y, Rocklöv J. The effective reproduction number for the omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern is several times higher than Delta. Journal of Travel Medicine. Published online March 9, 2022. doi:10.1093/jtm/taac037
34. Callaway E. The unequal scramble for coronavirus vaccines — by the numbers. Nature. 2020;584(7822):506-507. doi:10.1038/d41586-020-02450-x
35. No, COVID-19 Vaccines Do Not Cause New Coronavirus Variants. Healthline. Published June 2, 2021.
36. Brown CM. Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, Associated with Large Public Gatherings — Barnstable County, Massachusetts, July 2021. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2021;70(31). doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7031e2
37. CDCMMWR. COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections Reported to CDC — United States, January 1–April 30, 2021. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2021;70. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7021e3
38. Lopes L, Stokes M, 2021. KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: October 2021. KFF. Published October 28, 2021.
39. Anti-vaccine groups are already pushing the narrative against kids getting Covid vaccines. NBC News.
40. Professor Clancy and PhD alumna Katie Lee launch research on menstruation and COVID-19 vaccine | Anthropology at Illinois.
41. News ABC. How COVID-19 vaccine rollout compares to smallpox, polio and others in the past. ABC News.
42. Vector background of year 2021 with COVID-19 and vaccine signs... iStock. Accessed July 13, 2022.
43. YouTube. YouTube. Published online 2019.
44. Wesselink AK, Hatch EE, Rothman KJ, et al. A prospective cohort study of COVID-19 vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 infection, and fertility. American Journal of Epidemiology. Published online January 20, 2022:kwac011. doi:10.1093/aje/kwac011
45. Hause AM. COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Children Aged 5–11 Years — United States, November 3–December 19, 2021. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2021;70. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm705152a