Think women are all for vaccination? Well, a new research on Facebook chats on anti-vaccination gives a different picture.

A study by two Australian researchers showed that a majority of participants of anti-vaccination discourses on Facebook were women. The team analyzed the posts, likes, shares and comments on six public anti-vaccination Facebook pages. After studying two years' worth of data from these pages, they found that most of these anti-vaccination people or anti-vaxxers were women.

The researchers also came to the conclusion that these communities were extremely active and negative in tone.

Though these pages cater to a wide geographical area, the participants of such discourses belonged to a “small world” or a narrow subset, the research reveals, stressing on the major role played by social media in spreading anti-vaccination ideas on a global scale.

"Social media plays an important role in making anti-vaccination beliefs durable and persistent," Naomi Smith, a lecturer in sociology at Federation University Australia, told Live Science. Smith was the lead researcher of the study.

"Sharing posts is an important way to spread this type of information, so be careful before you share any post that claims vaccines make people sick."

In the United States alone, vaccines helped save the lives of 732,000 children and prevented more than 300 million children from getting sick in the last two decades, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014. Despite this, opposition to vaccines continues even today, the Live Science reported.

To gather a better understanding of the way anti-vaxxer Facebook communities function, Smith and co-researcher Tim Graham, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Australian National University, analyzed the structure of the six hand-picked pages, the gender balance, and the main recurring discussion topics.

The pages chosen for the study were Fans of the AVN, Dr. Tenpenny on Vaccines, Great Mothers (and Others) Questioning Vaccines, No Vaccines Australia, Age of Autism, and Rage Against the Vaccines. In total, these pages had 231,491 likes at the time the study was carried out (December 2015), reported Science Alert.

The study showed that anti-vaxxer posts were highly shared as people frequently shared posts on their own Facebook pages or on their friends' pages.

“In all, there were more than 2 million shares across the six groups during the two-year period. This means that the page's reach is much greater than the number of people who 'like' it," Live Science quoted Smith as saying.

Also, participants were found to be quite active across several anti-vaccination pages, "suggesting that users' activity on anti-vaccination is more than just a product of Facebook's recommender system (a system that recommends like-minded groups to people),” Smith added.

They also found that the groups were relatively loose-knit. However, the researchers stated that more research was needed to understand more about the anti-vaxxer movement and about the mindset of people.

"Concerns about vaccination reveal a community that feels persecuted and is suspicious of mainstream medical practice and government-sanctioned methods to prevent disease," Smith said.

"In a generation that has rarely seen these diseases first hand, the risk of adverse reaction seems more immediate and pressing than disease prevention."

The research was published in Information, Communication & Society.