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Attack of the Flu, Part Two

Previously, we reviewed the conversation volume and high level topics of what people online are saying about this year’s powerful Flu. Today, we will look at how that conversation was divided and dive into what people were saying about a particularly charged topic: the vaccine.

Combing the main Flu search performed through Visible Intelligence, four topics surfaced that people were most often discussing. These were the act of getting the Flu shot, the various symptoms of the virus, how this is “the worst Flu” and finally the inconvenience of taking time off of work, school, or missing events to be sick or take care of a loved one. Below is the distribution of these topics in the larger Flu conversation:

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Flu conversation topics

Of these subjects, one of the most charged topics is the discussion of the flu shot. Many people have a complicated view of vaccines, either full of mistrust and misunderstanding or vehemently defending the process. By analyzing sentiment of these conversations, we can see that positive and negative sentiment stays at a similar level until news of the severity of the virus begins to spread in the new year. Negative sentiment spikes as the news of a possible epidemic–and the rumored shortage of the vaccine–travels.

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Social sentiment on the Flu Vaccine, 12/20-1/13

What are people saying? Topics range from the act of getting the shot (pain, inconvenience, expensive) to shortage of the vaccine to mistrust of the vaccine as harmful, a conspiracy, or other thoughts based upon anecdotal evidence.

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Another coincidental topic to arise is opinions on the various pharmacies distributing the vaccine.

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Conversation focused on the customer experience as well as sharing information. Consumers discuss which pharmacies still had the vaccine as it began to be in short supply.


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At the Visible office, most of the ill are back to full health and it seems that flu shots are fully in stock. Things are not heading that direction all across the country, however. The CDC is still reporting high rates of Flu in several states. If you are one of the afflicted: rest up and by all means, Tweet about it!

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