Researchers look to Twitter to better understand vaccine refusal

February 24, 2015

A Johns Hopkins computer scientist is part of a team of researchers that has developed a new way to understand vaccine refusal by studying an unlikely resource: Twitter.

Mark DredzeThe researchers will combine Twitter analyses with traditional survey techniques to study why people refuse vaccines and how these reasons vary among communities. The focus on vaccination is particularly timely, with a severe flu season underway and recent well-publicized outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses, including a measles outbreak that has sickened people in 17 states and Washington, D.C., and several cases of mumps among National Hockey League players.

Mark Dredze, assistant research professor in the Department of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University, will develop new computer algorithms to support the team’s research.

“We hope to gain insights into people’s reasoning about vaccines by automatically processing millions of Twitter messages,” Dredze said.

Excerpted from The Hub. Read the complete story here.

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