A tale of two vaccines- and their science communication environments

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the difference in the US public’s reactions to proposals for universal administration of two adolescent immunizations: the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which provoked a firestorm of political controversy, and the Hepatitis B (HBV) vaccine, which aroused no such opposition. This chapter argues that the reason for this was that the public became familiar with the latter (but not the former) in a polluted science communication environment. It identifies decisions made by the vaccine’s manufacturer that drove the HPV vaccine off the nonpoliticized administrative- approval path followed by the HBV vaccine and every other mandated childhood vaccine and onto a highly politicized, highly partisan legislative one that predictably provoked identity- protective cognition. The chapter argues that such controversy will likely recur unless protection of the science communication environment is itself made a self- conscious object of the institutions, governmental and nongovernmental, that play a role in the dissemination of decision- relevant science.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780190497620
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • HBV vaccine
  • HPV vaccine
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Protective cognition
  • Science communication environment


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