24 Dec

Child vaccination brings together the left, the center-right and groups with no political alignment against the government

Debate about child vaccination

Updated 30 de December, 2021 at 6:12 pm

  • The group aligned with the government obtained the highest amount of interactions and profiles, but lost to the sum of the opposition groups.
  • The social base of groups favorable to vaccination has brought together the left, the center-right and groups with no political alignment, isolating the federal government.
  • Pressure on Anvisa employees mobilized criticism from leaders of opposition parties such as PSB, PSOL, PT, PODEMOS and PSDB.

A research carried out by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas between December 16 and 22, 2021, found more than 211.8 thousand tweets in the debate about initiating child vaccination against Covid-19. The debate had a peak of more than 40 thousand mentions on December 17, and remained above 20 thousand mentions per day until December 22.

With 40% of the profiles and 44% of the the interactions, the group associated with the government (Blue) was the largest in this debate. However, this advantage must be interpreted in context, since the other three groups in the debate argued against the federal government’s position regarding child vaccination and represented 47.3% of the profiles and 47.7% of the interactions. In addition, they were digital groups representing different parts of society, such as supporters of left-wing parties (Red), such as PT and PSOL, partisans of the center-right (Green), represented by João Doria and Sergio Moro, in addition to profiles with no political alignment (Yellow), coming together in tweets made by scientists, doctors and science communicators.

This approximation of different political groups could be identified through the volume of interactions among them. This metric has shown, for instance, that around 13% of the interactions in the Green group (center-right) and 9.5% of the Yellow group (no political alignment) were directed to profiles inside the Red group (left wing). The Blue group (the government), in turn, was isolated in the debate and obtained less than 1% of the interactions shared with the other groups. The data suggests that the government is once again focusing its discursive strategy on mobilizing only its closest supporters, isolating itself from the remaining groups in the debate.

Map of interactions about child vaccination on Twitter
Analysis period: December 16 to 22, 2021

Source: Twitter

Blue – 40.6% of profiles | 44.6% of interactions
Group formed by government members and influencers who were positioned against childhood vaccination. Their main arguments included questioning the safety and the need to apply vaccines to children, as well as accusing the institutional and health representatives who defend the beginning of child vaccination of genocide and cruelty. The publications in this group claimed that the pressure for vaccination is the result of lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry and that the WHO and doctors have allegedly made recommendations against it.

Red – 23.1% of profiles | 24.9% of interactions
Group composed mostly of left-wing institutional leaders and influencers, such as the congressman @MarceloFreixo (PSB-RJ), the congresswoman @gleisi (PT-PR), and the potential candidate for the government of São Paulo @guilhermeboulos (PSOL-SP) . This group highlighted the pressure exerted by the government and its supporters against Anvisa employees. The refusal by Bolsonaro and the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, to initiate vaccination was seen as irresponsible, and profiles argued there should be consequences in the event of child deaths caused by Covid.

Green – 20.1% of profiles | 19.0% of interactions
Group formed by scientists, doctors and science communicators who were positioned in favor of child vaccination and criticized the government’s delay in starting the immunization of children. In a structure usually divided into separate parties, it is interesting to note how this group managed to aggregate a high volume of profiles and interactions even though it was formed by influencers whose main agenda is science and health. The main criticisms included the government’s attempt to turn a technical debate into a political debate topic that could be subject to public consultations.

Yellow – 4.1% of profiles | 3.8% of interactions
Group formed by center and center-right profiles, highlighting the potential presidential candidates @sf_moro (PODEMOS) and @jdoriajr (PSDB), as well as movements such as @VemPraRua_br. This group was also positioned in favor of vaccination and harshly criticized the position of the federal government. As in the left-wing group, this group also focused largely to the pressure against Anvisa employees.