Reframing Medicine's Publics: The Local as a Public of Vaccine Refusal

Heidi Y. Lawrence, Bernice L. Hausman, Clare J. Dannenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Although medical and public health practitioners aim for high rates of vaccination, parent vaccination concerns confound doctors and complicate doctor-patient interactions. Medical and public health researchers have studied and attempted to counter antivaccination sentiments, but recommended approaches to dispel vaccination concerns have failed to produce long-lasting effects. We use observations made during a small study in a rural area in a southeastern state to demonstrate how a shift away from analyzing vaccination skepticism as a national issue with a global remedy reveals the nuances in vaccination sentiments based on locality. Instead of seeing antivaccinationists as a distinct public based on statistical commonalities, we argue that examining vaccination beliefs and practices at the local level offers a fuller picture of the contextualized nature of vaccination decisions within the psychosocial spaces of families. A view of vaccination that emphasizes the local public, rather than a globally conceived antivaccination public, enables medical humanists and rhetoricians to offer important considerations for improving communications about vaccinations in clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-129
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Medical Humanities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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