An attempt to swindle nature: press anti-immunisation reportage 1993-1997

Aust N Z J Public Health. 1998 Feb;22(1):17-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.1998.tb01140.x.


There is some evidence that low childhood immunisation rates in Australia may be attributed partly to parental antipathy toward immunisation. The anti-immunisation movement is becoming more organised in its efforts to lobby against childhood immunisation, while the lessening of the public's exposure to the effects of vaccine-preventable disease has provided a climate ripe for such a lobby to have a disproportionate influence on parents. Forty months of Australian print media coverage of immunisation were reviewed for anti-immunisation arguments and their underlying ideological subtexts. Of 2440 articles about childhood immunisation, 115 (4.7 per cent) contained statements opposing immunisation. Eight subtexts that referenced wider discourses about medicine, the state and the body dominated anti-immunisation discourse (cover-up; excavation of the facts; unholy alliance for profit; towards totalitarianism; us and them; vaccines as poisonous chemical cocktails; vaccines as cause of idiopathic ills; and back to nature). Attempts to redress claims made against immunisation must not only address specific claims about vaccine efficacy and safety but be grounded in a reframing of the ideological appeals that currently frame the contents of anti-immunisation discourse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communicable Disease Control / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Newspapers as Topic / standards
  • Newspapers as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Refusal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*