COVID-19 vaccine rumour and resistance in Indonesia: Analysing vaccine hesitancy and cultural myths circulated on online platforms

Rachmah Ida, Sri Endah Kinasih, Syafrida Nurrachmi Febriyanti, Ratih Puspa, Muhammad Saud, Mohd Syuhaidi Abu Bakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Rumours and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine have been massively circulated on social media platforms, ranging from misleading information, hoaxes, and conspiracy theories to exaggerating stories mixed with the circulation of cultural myths regarding the vaccine. Methods: This study examines the contents of social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and WhatsApp posts, also sourced from other Indonesian online portal news and mainstream media websites. Results: This research identifies quantitatively several rumours, misleading information, conspiracy theories, and other misinformation, resistance, and rejection toward issues related to the COVID-19 vaccine from March to April 2021. We then combine it with an analysis of the narratives of vaccine resistance and cultural myths that have made people hesitate or apathetic in participating in national vaccine programs by the Indonesian government. Conclusion: Sourced from the content analysis of this study, we categorised some themes such as vaccine development, availability, access, morbidity, mortality, harmful excesses, safety, and efficacy, both contained and presented in short narratives, visual graphics, memes, and cartoons. This study suggests that these rumours, misleading stories, and myths, may result in the Indonesian public's vaccine resistance and hesitancy, especially since May the Indonesian government stopped distributing the Astra Zeneca vaccines and the controversial issue regarding the availability of ‘Vaccine Nusantara’ (term as ‘Archipelago Vaccine’). This situation may influence the public's attitude to distrust the government and be distracted by misinformation about the vaccination program. Moreover, we see that cultural beliefs and religious stances have made complicated the hesitancy and resistance of the public against the COVID-19 vaccine.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Conspiracy
  • Covid-19 vaccine
  • Resistance
  • Rumour
  • Vaccine hesitancy


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