Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Communication and Medicine

More options …

Journalists and jabs: Media coverage of the MMR vaccine

Tammy Speers / Justin Lewis
Published Online: 2005-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/come.2004.1.2.171


The MMR vaccine became front-page news in early February 2002, in a much reported controversy about alleged links between MMR and autism. We examine both media content and public opinion and knowledge to explore how this controversy was presented, and, in turn, how this coverage influenced public perceptions. The news coverage of MMR was monitored over a seven and a half month period from 28 January to 15 September, 2002. Two national surveys were conducted—in April and in October, 2002—both based on over 1000 face to face interviews, with the purpose of exploring what the public learned from the coverage, and how this information may have influenced attitudes towards the vaccine. We will argue that the media's critical scrutiny of those supporting MMR was not matched by a rigorous examination of the case against it, and that the public was, as a consequence, often misinformed about the level of risk involved.

Keywords: vaccination; trust; expertise; public opinion; evidence; media

About the article

Address for correspondence: Cardiff School of Journalism, Media & Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, Bute Building, King Edward VII Ave, Cardiff, Wales, UK, CF10 3NB. E-mail:

Published Online: 2005-07-27

Published in Print: 2004-09-29

Citation Information: Communication & Medicine, Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages 171–181, ISSN (Online) 1613-3625, ISSN (Print) 1612-1783, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/come.2004.1.2.171.

Export Citation

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Ilaria Ampollini and Massimiano Bucchi
Science and Engineering Ethics, 2019
Siyabonga Thabethe, Catherine Slack, Graham Lindegger, Abigail Wilkinson, Douglas Wassenaar, Philippa Kerr, Linda-Gail Bekker, Kathy Mngadi, and Peter A. Newman
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 2018, Volume 13, Number 5, Page 525
Gürol Irzik and Faik Kurtulmus
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 2018
Kate Faasse, Jarry T. Porsius, Jonathan Faasse, and Leslie R. Martin
Vaccine, 2017
Morten Sodemann
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 2017, Page 140349481772498
Stephan Lewandowsky and Klaus Oberauer
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2016, Volume 25, Number 4, Page 217
Jie Ren, Hans Peter Peters, Joachim Allgaier, and Yin-Yueh Lo
Public Understanding of Science, 2014, Volume 23, Number 4, Page 366
Philip J. Smith, Sharon G. Humiston, Trish Parnell, Kirsten S. Vannice, and Daniel A. Salmon
Public Health Reports, 2010, Volume 125, Number 4, Page 534
Paulo Roberto Vasconcellos-Silva, Luis David Castiel, and Rosane Härter Griep
Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 2015, Volume 20, Number 2, Page 607
Helen Campbell, Angela Edwards, Louise Letley, Helen Bedford, Mary Ramsay, and Joanne Yarwood
Vaccine, 2017, Volume 35, Number 22, Page 2979
Graham N. Dixon and Christopher E. Clarke
Science Communication, 2013, Volume 35, Number 3, Page 358
Seok Kang, Jae-Sik Ha, and Teresa Velasco
Community Mental Health Journal, 2017, Volume 53, Number 4, Page 445
Ryan J. Thomas, Edson C. Tandoc, and Amanda Hinnant
Health Communication, 2017, Volume 32, Number 2, Page 152
Rustam Haydarov and Joye C. Gordon
Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 2015, Volume 8, Number 1, Page 45
Sandra C. Jones and Valerie Harwood
Disability & Society, 2009, Volume 24, Number 1, Page 5
Elizabeth R Wolf, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, and Douglas J Opel
Expert Review of Vaccines, 2015, Volume 14, Number 7, Page 923
Omer Qutaiba B Al-lela, Mohd Baidi Bahari, Harith Khalid Al-Qazaz, Muhannad RM Salih, Shazia Q Jamshed, and Ramadan M Elkalmi
BMC Pediatrics, 2014, Volume 14, Number 1
Charitha Gowda and Amanda F Dempsey
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 2013, Volume 9, Number 8, Page 1755
Harry Collins and Gary Sanders
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 2007, Volume 38, Number 4, Page 621
Donald E. Greydanus and Luis H. Toledo-Pereyra
Pediatric Clinics of North America, 2012, Volume 59, Number 1, Page 1
Bev J. Holmes, Natalie Henrich, Sara Hancock, and Valia Lestou
Journal of Risk Research, 2009, Volume 12, Number 6, Page 793
Jaci C. Huws and Robert S. P. Jones
British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 2011, Volume 39, Number 2, Page 98
G. A. Kemp, L. Eagle, and J. Verne
Health Promotion International, 2011, Volume 26, Number 1, Page 37
William Evans
Health Communication, 2005, Volume 17, Number 2, Page 205

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in