Rob Boddice argues that throughout history public fears about vaccination are really manifestations of one or more of the same three things: ignorance; mistrust of establishment interests and moral panic related to religion, sex and class. Other scholars have identified similar drivers in subsequent anti-vaccination campaigns internationally. But which of these conceived barriers have informed the tone of vaccination campaigns? Australia is experiencing increasing vaccine hesitancy, which is paralleled globally. This paper explores Australian government’s vaccination efforts in an effort to understand this better.

This JCom paper written by Merryn McKinnon and Lindy Orthia charts some of the literature which, has attempted to understand vaccine refusal or intentional delay in vaccination alerting readers to the range of personal attitudes and beliefs which may be involved. This includes acknowledging the likely influence of online communications committed to challenging scientific consensus in favour of other stories. 

The authors of this paper compare the Australian government’s vaccination efforts from two different time periods.The first case study interrogates government vaccination campaign to eradicate small pox in the nineteenth century, and the second looks at government-produced immunisation materials from the twenty-first century. The campaigns were analysed using Aristotle’s modes of rhetoric as a framework: logos (fact-based logical arguments), pathos (emotive arguments) and ethos (argument by asserting expertise). The team found that most recent campaigns have relied primarily on scientific fact (logos), yet 200 years ago personal stories and emotional appeals were more common (pathos). Authors feel that facts alone are not enough to encourage behavioural change. They conclude that:

‘…a return to the old ways may be needed to address vaccine hesitancy around the world’.

 Access this JCom article here

Creative Commons License

This work, unless stated otherwise, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


Please Sign in (or Register) to view further.