Scatterplot chart showing how states with more barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine also do fewer “vaccine” searches
Surgo Ventures found that states with higher COVID-19 vaccine barriers also did fewer vaccine searches.

How Google searches signal barriers to COVID-19 vaccine supply and demand

Analysis finds areas of the U.S. that face many vaccine barriers also showed lower demand for the vaccine

Nowcasting vaccine rollout with Google Trends

What we found:

Vaccine-vulnerable states search for vaccine access at lower rates

Line graph illustrating how states with high and medium barriers to COVID-19 vaccine rollout show consistently lower search rates than states with low rollout risk.
We’ve already seen that searches for vaccine access increase after the first Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in December 2020. Here, we show that the increase was uneven: states with high and medium barriers to vaccine rollout, as measured by Surgo’s COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage index, show consistently lower search rates than states with low rollout risk. Source: Surgo Ventures, Google Health Trends.
Scatterplot chart showing how states with more barriers to COVID-19 vaccination are searching less for vaccines.
The 50 states, plus DC, with their COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage index score plotted against search rates for vaccine access. States with more barriers to vaccination — those with a higher index score — are also searching less for vaccines. Data include searches after Dec. 11, 2020, the date of the Pfizer EUA. Source: Surgo Ventures, Google Health Trends
Scatterplot charts illustrating the 50 states, plus DC, with their COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage index theme scores plotted against search rates for COVID-19 vaccine access.
The 50 states, plus DC, with their COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage index theme scores plotted against search rates for vaccine access. Four of the five themes show that with increasing barriers come fewer searches for vaccines. However, Theme 3 shows that with fewer health resources comes more searching. Data include searches after Dec. 11, 2020, the date of the Pfizer EUA. Source: Surgo Ventures, Google Health Trends

Vaccine rollout speed is linked to Google search trends

Chart showing how Google Trends searches three weeks ahead have a strong positive relationship with COVID-19 vaccine administration.
While holding a vaccination week in January and February as fixed, we examined searches up to three weeks before, and up to two weeks after, the week in question. We found a U-shaped curve: searches three weeks before and two weeks after are positively associated with vaccination rates. However, searches the week before and the week of are negatively associated, likely indicating that appointment slots had filled up and/or eligibility restrictions applied despite search activity. Source: Google Health Trends and Our World In Data.
Chart illustrating how more Google searches means faster COVID-19 vaccinations, over all time periods analyzed.
While fixing a vaccination week in January through early April, we examine searches up to three weeks before, and up to two weeks after, the week in question. We now find that more searching means more vaccines, over all time periods. Source: Google Health Trends and Our World In Data.

Conclusion: Google Trends mirror real-world vaccine barriers and demand

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