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Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement

Published on May 1, 2012in Vaccine 3.29
· DOI :10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.11.112
Anna Kata5
Estimated H-index: 5
(McMaster University)
Abstract Websites opposing vaccination are prevalent on the Internet. Web 2.0, defined by interaction and user-generated content, has become ubiquitous. Furthermore, a new postmodern paradigm of healthcare has emerged, where power has shifted from doctors to patients, the legitimacy of science is questioned, and expertise is redefined. Together this has created an environment where anti-vaccine activists are able to effectively spread their messages. Evidence shows that individuals turn to the Internet for vaccination advice, and suggests such sources can impact vaccination decisions – therefore it is likely that anti-vaccine websites can influence whether people vaccinate themselves or their children. This overview examines the types of rhetoric individuals may encounter online in order to better understand why the anti-vaccination movement can be convincing, despite lacking scientific support for their claims. Tactics and tropes commonly used to argue against vaccination are described. This includes actions such as skewing science, shifting hypotheses, censoring dissent, and attacking critics; also discussed are frequently made claims such as not being “anti-vaccine” but “pro-safe vaccines”, that vaccines are toxic or unnatural, and more. Recognizing disingenuous claims made by the anti-vaccination movement is essential in order to critically evaluate the information and misinformation encountered online.
  • References (79)
  • Citations (269)
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V. L. Oknyanskij1
Estimated H-index: 1
30 Citations
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Nicky Hart1
Estimated H-index: 1
82 Citations
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克彦 日比野1
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Paul Offit1
Estimated H-index: 1
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89 Citations
Published on Jan 1, 1990
Anthony Giddens62
Estimated H-index: 62
Part I:. Introduction. The Discontinuities of Modernity. Security and Danger, Trust and Risk. Sociology and Modernity. Modernity, Time and Space. Disembedding. Trust. The Reflexivity of Modernity. Modernity and Post-- Modernity?. Summary. Part II:. The Institutional Dimensions of Modernity. The Globalizing of Modernity. Two Theoretical Perspectives. Dimensions of Globalization. Part III:. Trust and Modernity. Trust in Abstract Systems. Trust and Expertise. Trust and Ontological Security. The Pre...
9,885 Citations
Published on May 20, 2001
Hurbert L Dreyfus1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Pacific University)
Drawing on a diverse array of thinkers from Plato to Kierkegaard, On the Internet is one of the first books to bring philosophical insight to the debate on how far the internet can and cannot take us.
695 Citations
Jonathon Erlen4
Estimated H-index: 4
(University of Pittsburgh)
3 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 11, 2010in Journal of Medical Internet Research 4.67
T. van den Belt1
Estimated H-index: 1
L.J. Engelen7
Estimated H-index: 7
+ 1 AuthorsLisette Schoonhoven42
Estimated H-index: 42
Background: During the last decade, the Internet has become increasingly popular and is now an important part of our daily life. When new “Web 2.0” technologies are used in health care, the terms “Health 2.0" or "Medicine 2.0” may be used. Objective: The objective was to identify unique definitions of Health 2.0/Medicine 2.0 and recurrent topics within the definitions. Methods: A systematic literature review of electronic databases (PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL) and gray literature on the Internet usi...
203 Citations Source Cite
Published on May 15, 2003in Journal of Medical Internet Research 4.67
June Forkner-Dunn1
Estimated H-index: 1
The United States health care system is an outdated model in need of fundamental change. As part of this change, the system must explore and take advantage of the potential benefits of the "e-revolution," a phenomenon that includes everyday use of the Internet by the general public. During 2002, an estimated 100 million Americans will have obtained information — including health information — from the Web as a basis for making decisions. The Internet is thus an influential force; and, as such, t...
118 Citations Source Cite
Cited By269
Published on Jan 1, 2013
David M. Berman4
Estimated H-index: 4
(All Children's Hospital),
Paola Dees2
Estimated H-index: 2
(All Children's Hospital)
The communication of vaccine information has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Historically, the public received most vaccine information through printed text, television, and radio. However, the Internet has now revolutionized health care communication. Every year, there are a growing number of Internet users. Whereas one-way communication was the standard in the past, the Internet has allowed for interactive communication, access at anytime, from virtually any location in the wor...
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Published on Jan 1, 2013
Anna M. Johnson8
Estimated H-index: 8
(University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Vaccines are considered to be one of the most important and effective health interventions ever developed. Despite the great success of the childhood vaccination program in preventing disease—or, likely because of it—parental vaccine refusal rates in the USA and other developed countries are on the rise. Without firsthand experience with most vaccine-preventable diseases, parents have concerns that are increasingly focused instead on the issues of vaccine safety and personal liberties. While the...
1 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2013
Mark Navin6
Estimated H-index: 6
Some parents . . . aren’t willing to risk the very rare side effects of vaccines, so they choose to skip the shots. Their children benefit from herd immunity (the protection of all the vaccinated kids around them) without risking the vaccines themselves. Is this selfish? Perhaps. But as parents you have to decide. Are you supposed to make decisions that are good for the country as a whole? Or do you base your decisions on what’s best for your own child as an individual? Can we fault parents for ...
7 Citations
Published on Jul 10, 2014
Muhammad Amith3
Estimated H-index: 3
(University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio),
Cui Tao14
Estimated H-index: 14
(University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio)
Since the early 90s, healthcare providers have been mandated to provide VIS (Vaccine Information Statement) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to parents and patients before their children or themselves receive any vaccination uptake. Despite the initiative, there exist issues of patients not receiving a comprehensive understanding about the vaccines and some evidence of doubt of the safety of vaccines. In addition, a significant number of patients find vaccine information...
3 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jul 1, 2015in Vaccine 3.29
Heta Nieminen5
Estimated H-index: 5
(National Institute for Health and Welfare),
Ritva Syrjänen16
Estimated H-index: 16
(National Institute for Health and Welfare)
+ 2 AuthorsArto A. Palmu17
Estimated H-index: 17
(National Institute for Health and Welfare)
Abstract Background and aims The Finnish Invasive Pneumococcal disease (FinIP) vaccine trial was a nationwide cluster-randomised double-blind trial designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in vaccinated children and indirect effects in unvaccinated populations. Together with the parallel carriage/AOM trial, over 47,000 children were enrolled, 52% of the initial target. We conducted a questionnaire study to find out which factors affected parents’ decision on th...
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Published on Jul 1, 2015in International Journal of E-politics
Christopher Holmberg4
Estimated H-index: 4
(University of Gothenburg)
The low-carb high fat LCHF diet, a buzz diet in Sweden, is stirring dogmatic conflict between dieters and representatives from the National Food Agency NFA, even gaining international reputation. After gathering materials from social media and press reports covering the popular diet, a thematic analysis has been conducted. The aim of this study was to investigate how three non-conventional experts and influential promoters of the LCHF movement transact their criticisms of current nutrition autho...
4 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jan 1, 2015 in European Conference on Information Systems
David Langley11
Estimated H-index: 11
Remco Wijn3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research)
+ 1 AuthorsR. van Bork2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Amsterdam)
This paper explores the suitability of social media networks (SMNs) as a means of influencing the public’s decision-making process regarding vaccinations, specifically a vaccination to protect girls against HPV, a virus associated with cervical cancer. Parents of girls in the target cohort were invited to online discussion forums where they could discuss their opinions on the vaccination. We varied the posts on the forums in different experimental condition, such that they were exposed to promot...
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Published on Aug 1, 2015in Sex Roles 2.02
Sophie Bjork‐James1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Vanderbilt University)
This article explores the relevance of the ethnographic study of the Internet for feminist scholars interested in families. The online world is an emerging field site for feminist scholars investigating spousal, parental, and kin relations, one that opens up new arenas of study but also requires novel methodological approaches. The proliferation of cyber-communities and computer-mediated communication has radically altered how we live, communicate, and gather, share, and produce knowledge. This ...
7 Citations Source Cite
Published on Aug 7, 2015in PLOS Biology 9.16
Jason M. Glanz31
Estimated H-index: 31
(Colorado School of Public Health),
Courtney R. Kraus3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Kaiser Permanente),
Matthew F. Daley31
Estimated H-index: 31
(Kaiser Permanente)
The recent United States measles epidemic has sparked another contentious national discussion about childhood vaccination. A growing number of parents are expressing concerns about the safety of vaccines, often fueled by misinformation from the internet, books, and other nonmedical sources. Many of these concerned parents are choosing to refuse or delay childhood vaccines, placing their children and surrounding communities at risk for serious diseases that are nearly 100% preventable with vaccin...
16 Citations Source Cite
Published on Jun 1, 2016in Biosocieties 1.64
Samantha D. Gottlieb1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of California, Berkeley)
Recent data and increased vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks suggest that a growing number of US parents choose not to vaccinate their children. Popular media have responded to this phenomenon by emphasizing refusers’ moral failings and irrational fears. This article explores vaccine skeptics’ objections and argues that their critics miss fundamental reasons for resistances. Drawing on ethnographic research with a community of vaccine skeptics in southern California, a consideration of a lead...
5 Citations Source Cite