Vaccination, Culture, and Politics Since the Sixties

25 Jan 2018
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Elena Conis
Professor at the School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley

Aimee Medeiros
Assistant Professor of History of Health Sciences, UCSF

The last fifty years witnessed an enormous upsurge in vaccine use in the United States: American children began to receive more vaccines than any previous generation, and laws requiring their immunization against a litany of diseases became standard. But while vaccination rates soared and cases of preventable infections plummeted, an increasingly vocal cross-section of Americans began to question the safety and necessity of vaccines. Conis’s new book charts the emergence of widespread acceptance – and rejection – of vaccines from the 1960s to the 2010s, finding the origins of contemporary vaccination controversies in historical debates over topics ranging from national security to body piercing to the role of women in contemporary society. Vaccination’s success, she argues, has never been simply a medical matter, but one profoundly shaped by politics, economics, and culture.

In this conversation with the author, Aimee Medeiros (UCSF) will interview Elena Conis to explore Conis’ new book on the topic.