Impacts of Florida Vaccine Guidance in Indonesian Social Media

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Reynardi Larope Sutanto, a fifth-year medical student at the University of Indonesia. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

On October 7th 2022, the Florida Department of Health officially issued new guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations. Based on an analysis of self-controlled case series, they conclude that mRNA vaccines provide “an increased risk of cardiac-related death among males 18-39″ and should not be given to this age group.1 Despite widespread criticism from peer scientists2, the notion that a health department of a state in the most powerful country on earth has released such findings might have significant influences in other nations, especially developing ones like Indonesia who tend to view American science in high regard.

In two days time, the Floridian policy has reached Indonesian social media spheres. To analyze the effects, I have conducted research using Drone Emprit Academic (DEA), a social media analytics platform. The platform crawled 943 COVID-19 mRNA vaccine-related tweets

from the Indonesian twitter from September 7th to November 7th (a month before and after the date of the Florida guidance announcement). Several important data points on trends, hashtags, retweets, word usage, and public sentiments could be observed to conclude the impacts. 


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Figure 1. Trend of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine-related tweets

DEA showed that the first mentions of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have surfaced before October 7th in Indonesia (Figure 1). However, the number of tweets rose dramatically after the October 8th tweet by @drpriono1, a famous Indonesian epidemiologist who supported the new Florida guidance. Before that tweet, all tweets which mentioned mRNA vaccines were of positive sentiment (eg. people supporting vaccinations, announcements on vaccine availability, etc.). However, by the next day, tweets questioning the safety of mRNA vaccines and reprimanding the Indonesian vaccine mandate policy have swarmed the Indonesian twitter. Negative sentiments also rose significantly (Figure 2). Until November 7th, traditionally anti-vaccine buzzwords, like “Freedom”, “COVIDEndemic”, “depopulation”, have been the dominant hashtags in the conversations regarding mRNA vaccines. Four out of the top five most retweeted tweets were vaccine conspiracies linking mRNA vaccines with cancer and nanochips, issues which were even not mentioned by the Florida analysis. 

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Chart, pie chart

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Figure 2. Sentiment analysis of tweets before (left) and after (right) October 7th 2022

Although my analysis has its own limitation, namely the fact that twitter is the only source for gauging public communication impacts, the data clearly show how vaccination efforts could be impacted by the Florida guidance announcement. While open exchange of ideas should be the bedrock of every scientific inquiry, the Florida case has shown how distinguished institutions might impact other parts of the world in the fight against COVID-19. Concerns rose about its legitimizing effects towards movements supporting vaccine hesitancy. The many waves of massive misinformation on top of the global pandemic should be taken seriously by healthcare professionals when scientific discourse is yet to reach a conclusion. COVID-19 has taught the scientific world on the importance of proper communication of science towards the masses. Wisdom is to be exercised.


1. Florida Department of Health. Exploring the relationship between all-cause and cardiac-related mortality following COVID-19 vaccination or infection in Florida residents: a self-controlled case series study. Tallahassee: Florida Department of Health; 2022 Oct 7 [Internet]. Tallahassee: Florida Department of Health; 2022. Available from:

2. Yamey G. Why is Florida’s governor ramping up his anti-vaccine rhetoric? BMJ. 2022 Dec 23;379:o3061. 

About the author

Reynardi Larope Sutanto is a fifth-year medical student at the University of Indonesia. He finds his passion lies on global health issues, especially ones regarding maternal well-being. Before his clinical rotations, he was the president of his campus’ medical students society. He is also a passionate student advocate, being an active member of the Center for Indonesian Medical Students’ Activities, an NMO of IFMSA, and vice president of the Indonesian Medical Students’ Executive Boards’ Associaton. Besides medical school, he is interested in history and language learning. Currently, he is also undertaking his dual MBA/MHA programme at UPH Business School.

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