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Blaming MothersAmerican Law and the Risks to Children's Health$
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Linda C. Fentiman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780814724828

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814724828.001.0001

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The Vaccination Paradox

The Vaccination Paradox

(p.243) 9 The Vaccination Paradox
Blaming Mothers

Linda C. Fentiman

NYU Press

This chapter addresses risk construction in the context of mandatory vaccination laws. Vaccines prevent contagious disease outbreaks by achieving vaccination levels that protect the public through “herd immunity.” Yet vaccines have become a victim of their own success. Today, childhood immunization rates are falling nationwide, increasing the likelihood of disease outbreaks in communities where vaccination “exemptors” cluster. Vaccination is the one area of children’s health in which mothers who choose not to provide medical care to their children are neither condemned nor prosecuted. The construction of risk in the vaccine context shows how important racial and class stereotypes are in affecting our view of risk.

Keywords:   vaccination, immunization, anti-vaxxers, herd immunity, contagious diseases, autism, vaccine exemption, informed consent, fear, risks and benefits

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