Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2020 Beatrice A. Endler
Although many parts of the world are seeing steady or increasing vaccination rates, some countries, like the United States, have seen local declines in vaccine coverage. This project focuses on the measles, which was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 but has recently reappeared because of a decrease in vaccine uptake in some communities. The media plays a significant role in worsening vaccine rate drop-offs. For example, the “anti-vax” movement has taken advantage of social media platforms, which often act as breeding grounds for public health misinformation. When concerned parents view anti-vaccine media, they may become vaccine-hesitant and refuse vaccinations for their children, which can put vulnerable people at risk and adversely affect community health. Traditional pro-vaccine media has not worked to sway vaccine-hesitant parents. To be more successful, scholars recommend that medical and public health professionals abandon the knowledge deficit model of science communication, which assumes the public will be persuaded by objective facts. This method has consistently failed because it relies on boring statistics and research probabilities. In contrast, anti-vaccine media succeeds because it capitalizes on emotional anecdotes about supposed vaccine-related injuries in order to elicit fear in parents. Given this, some scholars have proposed that pro-vaccine media campaigns co-opt anti-vaccine communication strategies, namely storytelling, pathos, exaggeration, and sensation. Based on the shortcomings of pro-vaccine media and the strengths of anti-vaccine messaging, I created an animation that mimics the rhetorical approach of anti-vaccine media in an effort to encourage vaccine-hesitant parents to accept a pro-vaccine attitude.
Endler, Beatrice, "Addressing Public Health Misinformation In American Media: Appropriation of Anti-vaccine Media Strategies To Promote A Pro-vaccine Narrative" (2021). Scripps Senior Theses. 1753.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.