In January 2019, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Laurent-Henri Vignaud and Françoise Salvadori published what would turn out to be a very timely book, Antivax: Resistance to Vaccines from the 18th Century to the Present Day. In a recent presentation at the French College of General Medicine's 15th Congress of General Medicine, Vignaud, a historian of science, gave examples from the past to show that opposition to vaccines, which has come to light during the COVID-19 pandemic, is neither a recent phenomenon nor specific to France.
What Is "Antivaccinationism?"
According to Vignaud, the catchall term "antivaccinationism" can be broken down into three categories, based on intensity and nature.
- First is vaccine hesitancy, the refusal of certain vaccines or the delay in getting them despite vaccination services being available.
- Next is vaccine scepticism. This describes a critical attitude toward vaccines, one that may explain a person's reluctance or refusal to follow vaccine policies.
- Third, antivaccinationism in its current form stems from the adherence to one or more theories that are opposed to vaccination being used as a prophylactic.