What is the history of anti-vaccination beliefs in the United States, and how has vaccine skepticism affected the way we fight disease?

Professor Sue Lederer and Professor Judy Houck trace the long history of vaccine hesitancy and resistance in the United States, demonstrating that as long as we’ve had vaccinations, we’ve had vaccination skeptics and refusers. They discuss how the vaccine hesitancy movement has always been diverse and heterogeneous, and how compulsory vaccinations have long raised issues concerning the state’s authority over individuals’ bodies.

Episode Links:

Sue Lederer is the Robert Turell Professor of Medical History and Bioethics in the Department of History and the Department of Medical History & Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. https://history.wisc.edu/people/lederer-susan-e/

Judy Houck is Professor of History of Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with joint appointments in the Department of History and the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies.  https://history.wisc.edu/people/houck-judith-a/

Our music is “Pamgaea” by Kevin MacLeod. Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4193-pamgaea CC BY 4.0 license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Please send us your questions for a historian: outreach@history.wisc.edu

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