Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Department

Science, Technology and Society

Reader 1

Vivien Hamilton

Reader 2

Jacqueline Wernimont

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Marta B. Bean

Abstract

Vaccination is an important public health measure that can help reduce disease at the population level. Substantial evidence exists that vaccines are safe and effective at reducing the incidence of diseases like pertussis, measles and cervical cancer. However, on Internet parenting forums, parents discuss whether or not vaccination is the right choice for their children. In this thesis, I highlight the historical context of the anti-vaccine movement in mid 19th century to early 20th century Victorian Britain in the era of compulsory smallpox vaccination. Vaccination in this time was a very different and more overtly dangerous process, and preexisting dissenting movements took up anti-vaccination as a cause. Today, the rhetoric on Internet parenting forums has grown to include arguments of safety, efficacy and necessity of vaccination. I gathered much of the information from the mothering.com and mumsnet.com parenting forums, and other websites like Sanevax.org.