FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – There are many people who choose not to get vaccines or not to get their children vaccinated, and research indicates there’s stronger-than-usual resistance in Northern Colorado.
A pediatrician at UCHealth in Fort Collins says social media is influencing parents’ decisions on vaccines.
Researchers recently took a close look at the vaccine debate on Twitter and found Fort Collins apparently has a mostly negative view of vaccinations.
“Over half the messages were anti-vaccine in nature, saying vaccination causes autism,” said University Of Colorado Assistant Professor Chris Vargo.
Vargo and other researchers finished a five-year study that looked at the online arguments nationwide. They analyzed more than 500,000 tweets between 2010 and 2015 that specifically mentioned vaccines and autism.
“That makes it easier for us as researchers — to kind of look at millions of people and see what they’re saying,” Vargo said.
In Colorado, tweets from users in Fort Collins ranked high for anti-vaccine tweets — a rate of nearly 60 percent. That’s compared to about 24 percent in Denver, according to the study.
Vargo says a higher income rate in Northern Colorado may be playing a role.
“Folks that tend to have more resources tend to think that they can take care of their children no matter what,” he said.
“(Such parents say) ‘I don’t need to vaccinate because I can provide the best care should they get a disease.'”
Vargo is hopeful his study can help health care providers identify where more education on vaccines is needed.
“You have to be equipped to kind of speak the language of folks that are worried,” he said.
Birth rates as well as news coverage on vaccines also had an influence on those tweets, according to the study.
Vargo says the study is not a gauge of vaccination rates, rather an indication of where education on vaccines is needed.