The politics of vaccination

A global history

In this book scholars from across the globe investigate changes in ‘society’ and ‘nation’ over time through the lens of immunisation. Such an analysis unmasks the idea of vaccination as a simple health technology and makes visible the social and political complexities in which vaccination programmes are embedded. The collection of essays gives a comparative overview of immunisation at different times in widely different parts of the world and under different types of political regime. Core themes in the chapters include immunisation as an element of state formation; citizens’ articulation of seeing (or not seeing) their needs incorporated into public health practice; allegations that development aid is inappropriately steering third-world health policies; and an ideological shift that treats vaccines as marketable and profitable commodities rather than as essential tools of public health. Throughout, the authors explore relationships among vaccination, vaccine-making, and the discourses and debates on citizenship and nationhood that have accompanied mass vaccination campaigns. The thoughtful investigations of vaccination in relation to state power, concepts of national identify (and sense of solidarity) and individual citizens’ sense of obligation to self and others are completed by an afterword by eminent historian of vaccination William Muraskin. Reflecting on the well-funded global initiatives which do not correspond to the needs of poor countries, Muraskin asserts that an elite fraternity of self-selected global health leaders has undermined the United Nations system of collective health policy determination by launching global disease eradication and immunisation programmes over the last twenty years.

 

‘The reader will be impressed by the high quality of the research and the urgent import of the findings. Much of the history has been assembled from relatively inaccessible sources, some of which are in danger of being lost, in all the relevant languages. At the same time, there is the strong sense that there remains much to consider with respect to the future of vaccination.'
Michael Bennett, University of Tasmania
Health and History: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine, Vol. 19, No. 2
2017

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