A Vaccine as Deadly as the Virus? A Case Study of the AstraZeneca Vaccine, Media Amplification, and Public Debate on vaccines during the Covid-19 Pandemic
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- Studentoppgaver (TN-ISØP) 
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Much new research examines different aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the role of both traditional news media and social media in influencing people´s perceptions and behaviors seems to be missing. Therefore, this paper aims at understanding how the public debate on the possible severe side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine that took place around the 11th of March 2021, has been shaped by Danish mass media and social media. It takes the form of a case study that includes both news articles and social media comments as sources of evidence while drawing on well-known risk literature, including the Social Amplification of Risk Framework as the conceptual and analytical frame. The results suggest a significant increase in both volume of coverage, degree of debate, dramatization, and symbolic connotations in the mass media, signifying that an amplification that influences public perception is taking place. This illustrates that the media have shaped the public debate on the AstraZeneca vaccine. Similarly, signs of amplification and influence on the public debate were also found in the social media comments; however, this was less evident. It is discussed to be due to several factors such as rapid vaccine development, uncertainty, insufficient testing, unfamiliarity with the risk, and loss of control. Lastly, it is argued that other key elements such as trust and other perception factors might further influence the public debate.