Public Discussion of Vaccines on the Internet

The internet is one of the major means of communication and sources of information in the modern world. People often turn to forums and online articles in an attempt to find the answers to the questions concerning them. The accessibility of information can be beneficial if individuals can find reliable sources and critically assess anything they see on the internet. Otherwise, it may be harmful because it can lead to misinformation, ungrounded doubts, and irrational behaviors. In her article, Tiffany shows how an online forum designed for promoting and celebrating the Pfizer vaccine turned into an anti-vaccination discussion by the efforts of the users. By exploring a real-life example of a pro-vaccine forum, this article makes a compelling argument against the use of the internet for promoting vaccines because of the ineffectiveness of this approach.

The choice of an actual online forum makes the author’s argument more effective. In her article, Tiffany uses a forum on Reddit called “Pfizer Gang,” which admitted people who underwent vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine and engaged in posting jokes and memes about immunization. Nickolas, the founder of the forum, aimed to encourage people to vaccinate by showing that those who got a shot were having a lot of fun. However, from a place for having fun, the forum soon turned into a website where people shared their perceived side effects of the vaccine. Tiffany cites several examples of such posts to provide evidence. For instance, one person wrote, “I had tons of horrible nightmares,” and another one asked, “Anyone got a feeling of a hairball in their throat?” (Tiffany 17). These messages show that it was the public who shaped the conversation, which is why Nickolas’s initial purpose was eventually forgotten.

This article sheds light on why pro-vaccination forums are doomed to failure. The main problem is people who most actively engage in posting. Tiffany notes that those who were enthusiastic about getting vaccines got an inoculation and moved on with their lives, and when they were gone, “the boards were left to those who had more qualms” (18). It means that individuals opposing vaccines were more interested in maintaining their forum activity than those who readily got immunized. As Tiffany writes, vaccine-refusing people are known for “being coordinated and persistent” and “derailing productive conversation” (18). The readers of this article who are acquainted with someone opposing the vaccine are likely to agree with this point. It is almost impossible to persuade vaccine opponents of getting a shot because they have a strong belief in conspiracy theories or dangerous side effects that often do not align with evidence and common sense. In the online environment, such people can freely spread their doubts and misconceptions, thus undermining any good intentions of vaccine promoters and increasing vaccine hesitancy.

In conclusion, the article is convincing in its argument that any forum is likely to become anti-vaccination without a thorough moderation process. The internet gives people the ability to share their thoughts with others easily, and this becomes a hindrance to the effectiveness of promotional campaigns such as the “Pfizer Gang” forum. The main conclusion that the readers can make from this article is that online initiatives intended to encourage people to vaccinate should be carefully organized and controlled. Without these measures, the most active users will seize control over the initiative and change it at their discretion.

Work Cited

Tiffany, Kaitlyn. “This Pfizer Gang Is Finished.” Atlantic, vol. 328, no. 1, 2021, pp. 16–18. EBSCOhost, Web.

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