Impact of antivaccination campaigns on health worldwide: lessons for Australia and the global community

Helen Petousis‐Harris and Lisbeth Alley
Med J Aust 2020; 213 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50779
Published online: 5 October 2020

The arrival of social media coincides with the point at which the antivaccination movement became globally coordinated

The antivaccination movement has roots in the first vaccine, smallpox, although opposition to the practice of artificially inducing immunity reaches back to the practice of variolation. Despite over two centuries of vaccination practice and all the advances in medical science and societal changes that have occurred over this time, the objections still follow the same themes. These have been eloquently described as: vaccines cause idiopathic illness, unholy alliance for profit, vaccines as poisonous chemical cocktails, cover‐up, towards totalitarianism, vaccine immunity is temporary, vaccines are ineffective, and health lifestyle alternative.1 For over two centuries, antivaccination activities, distribution of literature, membership and scientific establishment responses remained unchanged.2

  • Helen Petousis‐Harris1
  • Lisbeth Alley2

  • 1 University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2 Immunisation Advisory Centre, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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