The anti-vaccination movement

The anti-vaccination movement has a long history, beginning in France in 1763 and continuing through to today. As with all hot-button issues, it’s important to have accurate information and listen to both sides of the story. In the below infographic, developed by Mark Kirkpatrick, a freelance health journalist and dietitian, we discuss the reasoning and history behind the anti-vaccination movement.  In the early days of immunization, distrust in vaccines was well-warranted. There was no official quarantine procedure for those who’d already been inoculated and 18th Century doctors didn’t have quite the same standards as us when it came to sanitation and disease prevention. But as you can see, medical knowledge and standards have progressed greatly since those times and today’s vaccinations are a safe and effective tool in battling global health issues such as measles and rubella.

More than just a timeline of anti-vaccination movements, this infographic also includes useful information about vaccination itself, some of which might very well surprise you. For example: did you know that the first immunizations were administered in China in the 10th Century BCE? Or that the famed French philosopher Voltaire argued strongly for immunizations?

Best Practice Guidance on How to Respond to Vocal Vaccine Deniers



Click here for a high res version.

22 responses to “The anti-vaccination movement”

  1. […] According to The Measles & Rubella Initiative, the widespread anti-vaccination movement in America began in 2007 because of a celebrities influence. The CDC reported less than 100 cases across the country in 2007, which is consistent with numbers from years prior. However, in 2008 scientists documented approximately 150 cases which the CDC attributes to “spread in communities with groups of unvaccinated people”. Looking at data from one year after the catalyst to the anti-vaccine movement may not warrant much of a conclusion so we can turn to data from 2014 onward, 7 years after the initial statement from the celebrity. The CDC data shows the number of cases being over 100 for 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018 with 2016 as the exception. This suggests to me that the number of measles cases has increased since 2007, but I am still unsure whether it is due to unvaccinated populations in the United States. […]

  2. JD says:

    Currently Northern Oregon is in the midst of a measles outbreak in which the majority of those infected are from non-vaccinated families. It is spreading rapidly, among non-vaccinated children. As of today the number is 41 confirmed, 30 under age 10, 15 more suspected. At least 31 had not been vaccinated.

  3. Kate says:

    Hi, amazing people! Thank you a lot for this infographic! We would like to have it translated to Ukrainian – we have measles outbreak at the moment (over 53K people got measles in 2018, and over 15K people were already diagnosed with it by the end of January 2019). Antivaxxers are one of the reasons for the situation. We will try to edit the image, but if you have some kind of editable .pdf with will be way faster.

  4. Izzy Ozkurt says:

    I am a journalism major at Ithaca College and I am writing a story about anti vaccinators and I would love for someone to to answer some questions via email. Thanks!

  5. […] that same infection seems counter-intuitive, and early on in the life of vaccines, there were some failed attempts at inoculating […]

  6. Brandon Than says:

    I am doing a school project about anti-vaccinators and I would like for someone to answer some of my questions via email. My email is [email protected]

  7. […] imagine the kind of hell that mumps, measles, or rubella can cause? What do they hope to achieve? Where does the anti-vaxxer impulse come from? Certainly, these people must love their children. Millions of people have received vaccines with no […]

  8. Mihir Bacha Pendse says:

    Amazing content. Thank you for all your hard work!

  9. […] is best for their child become much more prevalent in more generally progressive demographics. ( A new demographic of parents with these independent beliefs are recalling this case study from […]

  10. […] menjadi topik hangat di Malaysia apabila munculnya golongan anti-vaksin yang secara terang-terangan menolak pemberian vaksin oleh Kementerian […]

  11. M.F says:

    I am doing a project for my class on the topic of vaccines and anti-vaxxers. Thanks for the info!

  12. […] common misconception we hear is that vaccination can lead to autism. US celebrity Jenny McCarthy announced to the world that her son’s autism was caused by vaccination in 2007, after a fraudulent research paper was released a few years […]

  13. […] a big topic that has risen over the past few months have been vaccinations. It’s a normal thing and something people didn’t really think about a year ago. Getting […]

  14. […] focus on a limited number of topics which are deemed important with significant consequences. The anti-vaccination movement and those who believe in flat-earth theory are both spreading anti-scientific and fake […]

  15. […] theory as to why the number of people vaccinating against measles has dropped? The rise in anti-vaccination ideology and the spread of misinformation about both the viral infection and the […]

  16. Vivian Moen says:

    Thanks for the historical information that provided a clear picture of in biased facts. I intend to recommend this site to others in Oregon since the anti vaxx movement is growing. I am fearful of the health safety of the children in this wonderful state.

  17. […] though it’s hard to say exactly when the modern U.S. anti-vaccination movement began, the Measles & Rubella Initiative is looking at Jenny McCarthy, who first said in 2007 that vaccinations had caused her son’s […]

  18. Shay Harding says:

    I’m currently going through a family nurse practitioner program and I had no idea before starting clinicals what a hot topic this is and how passionate the anti-vaccination movement can be in the absence of scientific data or evidence. There is no question that vaccinations have single handedly saved more lives and done more to promote health than any other advancement in medicine. The question we keep debating is what exactly is the best way to combat the anti-vaccination movement? It seems evidence and facts are not always high on the priority list compared to fear mongering blogs. Vaccinations have become their own worst enemy due to how effective they are, people have lost the fear of the actual diseases they protect against. Unfortunately it seems it almost takes an outbreak to bring that reality back. There are many initiatives underway to combat the dangers of the anti-vaccination movement. Efforts are being made to have more people in the medical field voice their concerns, and spread evidence-based materials. Some schools won’t allow students without vaccinations. Some states are taking away exemptions for vaccinations. Some efforts are being made to silence the loud anti-vaccination movement, while some pediatrician clinics won’t even see patients who have not been vaccinated. I am not arguing that any of these are right or wrong, just that these are the efforts being made and it seems we really don’t know how to best handle this situation. I do know that winning the argument is irrelevant if a patient does not buy into their health plan and trust what is being done. So my question to you all and where you live is what efforts have you seen that you think have been effective in helping people align themselves with evidence-based best care practices? Is there anything that has swayed your opinion? Anything that has not worked at all? I know that all of us in the health care field realize this is a complicated issue and we don’t know how to best handle it.

  19. Christine says:

    Where are thorough studies comparing the health of vaccinated against non-vaccinated children in the US? They would clear the confusion and uncertainty!

  20. Rosalie Michslok says:

    I contacted German measles when I worked at a school. I didn’t know I was pregnant. I baby died at birth. Vaccination was not available in the 70s. Please vaccinate. I would not wish anyone to go through what I did.

  21. Joe Dowd says:

    The campaign against the antivaxxers has been incredibly potent. Can anyone post researches into the source of funding for this campaign please. Thanks in advance!

  22. Sergio says:

    According to Germany, people from Eastern Europe are more resistant to diseases compared to their western brothers. The reason is the compulsory vaccinations they went through during communism times. That explains why research from universities of Berlin showed that East Berliners were less likely to die from COVID 19 in spring, 2020.