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5 things everyone wants to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

Americans eager for info on COVID vaccines
Google data shows Americans are eager for COVID-19 vaccine information 03:34

Despite divisive politics, conspiracy theories and a botched U.S. rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Americans are hungry for information about vaccines, new data from Google reveals.

Over the past month, "Where to get covid vaccine" was the most-Googled question in the U.S., the search giant told CBS MoneyWatch. Pennsylvania was the top state searching for "where to get covid vaccine," followed by Delaware and Washington. The term "covid vaccine near me" was searched three times more frequently than queries related to testing.

Google, which claims more than 90% of internet searches in the U.S., aggregated and analyzed a broad sample of search data in all 50 states and analyzed geographic patterns. The company discovered demand for authoritative vaccination information, including strong interest in where to get the vaccine, how it works and if it's safe.

In West Virginia, for example, a state lauded for its efficient vaccine rollout, the most popular virus-related searches are "is the covid vaccine safe" and "covid vaccine side effects." As vaccinations spread across the U.S. in February, searches for the term "arm sore," a side effect of the vaccine, also spiked.

Google extracted vaccination and testing search data primarily to help public health agencies, the company said.

"We work in partnership with the CDC, [the World Health Organization] and state agencies," said Danny Sullivan, Google's public liaison for search. "Our work in the U.S. is a model for the world overall. We're able to surface information ... to give you, for example, testing locations or vaccination locations, side-effect information and symptoms information."

Searches related to COVID-19 testing are in red, searches related to vaccines are in blue. Google

According to anonymous search data from each state, these are the 10 most frequently searched questions related to COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Where to get covid vaccine?
  • When can I get the covid vaccine?
  • Is the covid vaccine safe?
  • How long does the covid vaccine last?
  • Which vaccine is better?
  • How to sign up for the covid vaccine?
  • Is the covid vaccine FDA approved?
  • What is in the covid vaccine?
  • How effective is the covid vaccine?
  • How does the covid vaccine work?
Searches related to COVID-19 over time. Google

Safety is a key concern for most Americans. In the past month, the phrase "Is the covid vaccine safe for..." is searched along with the keywords:

  • Pregnant women
  • Diabetics
  • Elderly
  • Children
  • Everyone

The COVID-19 vaccine has not been extensively tested in children, but according to Dr. Bob Lahita, chairman of medicine at St. Joseph University Hospital, the Pfizer vaccine is "extremely safe."

Searches for COVID-19 symptoms in blue, COVID-19 testing in red. Google

Vaccine search data also indicates that Americans are still anxious about potential vaccine side effects:

  • Searches for "covid vaccine side effects" peaked in early February and remain high. 
  • New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Arizona are the top states searching for vaccine side effect information. 
  • In the past four weeks, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Hampshire were the top states searching for "covid vaccine side effects."
The top states searching for COVID-19 vaccine information. Google

People are also apprehensive about how the vaccine might interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications. These are the top keywords appearing alongside searches for "vaccine":

  • Aleve pill 
  • Tizanidine 
  • Prozac 
  • Ibuprofen and covid vaccines 
  • Advil liquid gel caps

Sullivan is optimistic about the recent shift in search interest in vaccinations. "There's a degree of hope just in the fact that people are searching for the vaccine," he said.

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