Frequently searched questions about the COVID-19 vaccine often involve the efficacy of the vaccine, technical details, and administration.

Although millions of Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you may have patients who are unsure about it. As their health care professional, what can you do to provide them with the information they need?

A recent study published in JMIR Infodemiology examined what the most commonly searched questions are surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and which general categories they fall into. Utilizing search engine analytics, the results provide a glimpse into what concerned patients want to know and, as a result, how you may be able to provide them with the information they need. What are some of the more frequently searched questions about the vaccine?

Safety and Efficacy

The subcategory with some of the more pertinent questions was “safety and efficacy.” In addition to wanting to know how safe the vaccine is, many also sought information on how efficient the vaccine is at preventing COVID-19. This included the most basic versions of these questions (“how safe/efficient is the COVID-19 vaccine”) as well as:

  • Can the vaccine make you sick?
  • What are the side effects of the vaccine?
  • Are you immune to COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine?

In addition, there were frequently searched queries about specific vaccines. People often searched about the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and whether both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine were approved by the FDA.

Technical Details

“Technical details” searches had more to do with the specific effects of the vaccine. These fact-seeking queries included:

  • How does the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine work?
  • Can I get COVID-19 right after being vaccinated?
  • Can you still get COVID-19 after the first vaccine?
  • Can you still test positive for COVID-19 after the vaccine?

It’s clear that many searching for technical details about the vaccine are seeking more information about exactly what the vaccine does and how effective it is at preventing COVID-19.

Schedule and Administration

The searches in the “schedule and administration” subcategory suggest that many patients still aren’t certain about the timing of COVID-19 vaccine doses. These are fact-based questions with quick answers you can provide your patients, including:

  • Do COVID-19 vaccines require more than one shot?
  • Are both vaccines two doses?
  • How many shots of the Moderna vaccine should I get?
  • How long do you have to wait between vaccines?

Another administration-related question involved the vaccine and patients who have previously had COVID-19: “Do you have to wait 90 days after Covid to get the vaccine?”

Risks and Benefits

One last subcategory, “risks and benefits,” dealt more in value appraisal. This included questions about whether the vaccine stops the spread of COVID-19 and whether recipients would still have to wear a mask after receiving the vaccine.

All of these questions suggest that patients are still seeking basic information about the vaccine, from how many doses are required to whether there are side effects.

Reference

Sajjadi NB, Shepard S, Ottwell R, et al. Examining the public’s most frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines using search engine analytics in the United States: observational study. JMIR Infodemiology. 2021;1(1):e28740. Published online August 4, 2021. doi:10.2196/28740