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What Google searches tell us about interest in the COVID-19 vaccine

Giving policymakers insights on the public reaction to regulatory milestones

Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash

Why look at Google Trends?

Google search interest for “bars and restaurants nearby” across all states measured by Relative Search Value (RSV) during March/April 2020.
Google search interest for “bars and restaurants nearby” across all states measured by Relative Search Value (RSV) during March/April 2020.
Google search interest for “bars and restaurants nearby” across all states measured by Relative Search Value (RSV) during March/April 2020.

Google searches provide a window to explore COVID-19 vaccine information seeking

COVID19 vaccine search framework visual allowing us to calculate a global percent of all Google searches that comprise one of our three sentinel signals: general, access, and risks.
COVID19 vaccine search framework visual allowing us to calculate a global percent of all Google searches that comprise one of our three sentinel signals: general, access, and risks.

Finding 1: After overall COVID-19 interest dropped in August, COVID-19 vaccine-specific interest rose after the first Emergency Use Authorization.

Line graph showing how google searches for COVID19 and COVID19 vaccines changed in the pandemic’s first year.
Line graph showing how google searches for COVID19 and COVID19 vaccines changed in the pandemic’s first year.
Line graph showing how key regulatroy announcements affected Google vaccine search interest
Line graph showing how key regulatroy announcements affected Google vaccine search interest

Finding 2: The rise in vaccine-specific searches was driven by ‘Access’ searches — suggesting people’s strong interest in getting the vaccine after the EUA.

Line graph showing how the national rise in vaccine-specific searches was driven by access searches
Line graph showing how the national rise in vaccine-specific searches was driven by access searches

Finding 3: Northeastern states searched for vaccine access at higher rates than other regions.

Bar charts showing regional average of COVID19 search interest indicator as percent of all Google seraches.
Bar charts showing regional average of COVID19 search interest indicator as percent of all Google seraches.
*To get a percent difference, the regional rate of search for Northeast region was compared to the average of the three other regions — South, West, and Midwest.

People were eager to access the vaccine, as measured by their Google searches

What we learned in this post about Google Trends for vaccines:

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