Reframing Medicine’s Publics: The Local as a Public of Vaccine Refusal

Journal of Medical Humanities 35 (2):111-129 (2014)

Although medical and public health practitioners aim for high rates of vaccination, parent vaccination concerns confound doctors and complicate doctor-patient interactions. Medical and public health researchers have studied and attempted to counter antivaccination sentiments, but recommended approaches to dispel vaccination concerns have failed to produce long-lasting effects. We use observations made during a small study in a rural area in a southeastern state to demonstrate how a shift away from analyzing vaccination skepticism as a national issue with a global remedy reveals the nuances in vaccination sentiments based on locality. Instead of seeing antivaccinationists as a distinct public based on statistical commonalities, we argue that examining vaccination beliefs and practices at the local level offers a fuller picture of the contextualized nature of vaccination decisions within the psychosocial spaces of families. A view of vaccination that emphasizes the local public, rather than a globally conceived antivaccination public, enables medical humanists and rhetoricians to offer important considerations for improving communications about vaccinations in clinical settings
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DOI 10.1007/s10912-014-9278-4
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