More than one in two young people say the COVID-19 vaccine debate is characterised by misinformation

25 May 2021

In a new survey, more than half of the 16 to 34-year-olds find that the vaccine debate is characterised by misinformation, and that the tone is negative. The Danish Medicines Agency is now stepping up its ‘think before you share campaign’ (#TænkFørDuDeler) – a campaign encouraging people to check facts and to respect other people on social media.

Around one third of Danes find that the COVID-19 vaccines are debated in a positive tone and on an informed basis.

Yet, more than half of the 16 to 34-year-olds find that the vaccine debate in Denmark is characterised by misinformation, so shows a new population survey conducted by the Danish Medicines Agency in collaboration with the research company Epinion. Many young people also find the tone to be negative on social media.

Every day the agency’s social media editor Diana Brandt Larsen follows the vaccine debate on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and she is familiar with the situation:

“We know from DR’s media research that a growing number of Danes use social media on a daily basis, and particularly the young are coming to the fore. This means that social media is gaining ground as a place where young people get information about what is happening in society. Here, discussions on the efficacy and risks of COVID-19 vaccines can get loud and sometimes with misinformation whether intentional or not.”

We should speak more respectfully to each other

In the survey, 80 percent of Danes say that they generally respect the views of others, while 48 percent find that their views are not respected by others. Food for thought, according to Diana Brandt Larsen:

“We sometimes see disagreements developing into a disrespectful tone between private users who comment on the Danish Medicines Agency’s posts on its social media platform. It would benefit the vaccine debate if we could generally discuss matters respectfully with an open mind to the views of others.”

An informed vaccine debate is a shared responsibility

We will now put these new insights into action by stepping up our information campaign – especially on social media, says Diana Brandt Larsen:

“We all have a responsibility to ensure that public debate on vaccines is informed, proper and that it promotes respect for different opinions. Social media is no exception. As a result, we will be stepping up our ‘think before you share campaign’ (#TænkFørDuDeler) – a campaign encouraging people to check facts and avoid spreading rumours on social media. We invite everyone to help us online.”

The population survey will be repeated every three months until further notice.

Why we ask the Danes about COVID-19 vaccines

The population survey is intended to help members of the public, media, professionals and authorities to ensure that we all get the necessary information about the risk of COVID-19 and the vaccines’ efficacy and side effects, so that each person can make their own choice on an informed basis.

Read the survey ‘What Danes know about the efficacy and side effects of COVID-19 vaccines’