From Fork Hands to Microchips: An Analysis of Trending #CovidVaccine Content on TikTok
TikTok has grown in popularity and has become a platform where users engage with information about COVID-19 in diverse and playful ways. As of July 2021, TikTok videos posted with the hashtag #CovidVaccine collectively received more than 1.4B views, making it the most prominent COVID-related hashtag on TikTok. This study investigates the discourse about COVID-19 vaccination on TikTok by analyzing 100 top TikTok videos that used the hashtag #CovidVaccine. The findings show an overwhelming number of the trending videos were created by citizens who did not identify themselves as professionals or experts, with a low contribution from mega-influencers compared with other influencer types. Content was largely positive in tone toward COVID-19 vaccines, with neutral videos less prominent, offering an agnostic tone about the vaccines. This study highlights some of the challenges and opportunities facing health communicators who seek to better understand TikTok and its audiences and find creative ways to communicate vaccine advocacy on such a pathos-centric, ambiguous platform.