Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Complex Systems and Data Science

First Advisor

Sarah Nowak

Second Advisor

Chris Danforth


Despite national and international organizations such as the CDC and WHO recognizing the value of vaccines and their importance in addressing public health concerns, there has been a decline in coverage for even the most established vaccines over the past three years. The global COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to this decline via decreases in medical resource accessibility and an increase in vaccine hesitancy. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO had recognized vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to public health. In the present work, we introduce a background account of (1) vaccine hesitancy and (2) anti-vax activism, along with their potential harms. We then describe how the current methods for studying this pair of trends struggle to capture their turbulent and nuanced nature. Using over 5M messages from BabyCenter, a message board for expecting and new parents, we present methods for identifying a glossary of terms associated with vaccine hesitancy or specific vaccine conversations. By quantifying changes in vocabulary over time and specific to sub-topics our work offers a quantitative starting point for informing targeted strategies to increase vaccination uptake.



Number of Pages

50 p.