Vaccine Search Patterns Provide Insights into Vaccination Intent

Sean Malahy
Keith Spangler
Jessica Leibler
Kevin J. Lane
Shailesh Bavadekar
Chaitanya Kamath
Akim Kumok
Yuantong Sun
Tague Griffith
Adam Boulanger
Mark Young
Charlotte Stanton
Yael Mayer
Karen Lee Smith
Kat Chou
Jonathan I. Levy
Adam A.Szpiro
Evgeniy Gabrilovich
Gregory A. Wellenius
arXiv(2021), TBD


Despite ample supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the proportion of fully vaccinated individuals remains suboptimal across much of the US. Rapid vaccination of additional people will prevent new infections among both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated, thus saving lives. With the rapid rollout of vaccination efforts this year, the internet has become a dominant source of information about COVID-19 vaccines, their safety and efficacy, and their availability. We sought to evaluate whether trends in internet searches related to COVID-19 vaccination - as reflected by Google's Vaccine Search Insights (VSI) index - could be used as a marker of population-level interest in receiving a vaccination. We found that between January and August of 2021: 1) Google's weekly VSI index was associated with the number of new vaccinations administered in the subsequent three weeks, and 2) the average VSI index in earlier months was strongly correlated (up to r = 0.89) with vaccination rates many months later. Given these results, we illustrate an approach by which data on search interest may be combined with other available data to inform local public health outreach and vaccination efforts. These results suggest that the VSI index may be useful as a leading indicator of population-level interest in or intent to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, especially early in the vaccine deployment efforts. These results may be relevant to current efforts to administer COVID-19 vaccines to unvaccinated individuals, to newly eligible children, and to those eligible to receive a booster shot. More broadly, these results highlight the opportunities for anonymized and aggregated internet search data, available in near real-time, to inform the response to public health emergencies.

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