, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 37-41
Date: 26 Sep 2013

Morality, Responsibility and Risk: The Importance of Alternative Perspectives in Vaccination Research

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Abstract

Background

The four papers presented in this special section together provide a striking example of the importance of eliciting people’s understandings and meanings of vaccinations, from parents and children to health and medical professionals.

Purpose

This commentary reflects on the findings of the papers in this special section and considers them within a broader sociocultural view on vaccination research.

Methods

The four papers in the special section were integrated with previous research and scholarship on public health and vaccinations.

Results

The studies demonstrate how both uptake of vaccinations and their meanings vary by cultural context, most notably across Eastern and Western Europe, and the fundamental role that political, economic and healthcare systems play. Nevertheless, there are many similarities across seemingly diverse contexts. Three specific tensions are apparent across the findings (and within other vaccination research). These tensions revolve around (1) responsible citizen versus responsible individual, (2) scientific knowledge versus lay understandings and (3) uncertainty and risk versus certainty and trust.

Conclusion

Threaded through these tensions are discourses around citizenship, trust, morality, gender and power that are important to consider in research on vaccinations.