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Antivaccination activists on the world wide web
  1. P Davies1,
  2. S Chapman1,
  3. J Leask2
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney A27, NSW 2006, Australia
  2. 2Natinal Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance
  1. Correspondence to:
    Prof. S Chapman, Department of Public Health, University of Sydney 2006, Australia;


Aims: To determine the likelihood of finding an antivaccination site on the world wide web and to characterise their explicit claims and rhetorical appeals.

Methods: Using “vaccination” and “immunisation”, examining the first 10 sites displayed on seven leading search engines. Detailed examination of content of 100 antivaccination sites found on Google.

Results: 43% of websites were antivaccination (all of the first 10 on Google). Main rhetorical appeals involve themes of the scientific veracity of antivaccination argument; rapport with parents seeking to protect their children from harm; and alleged collusion between doctors, the pharmaceutical industry, and government to deny vaccine harm.

Conclusions: There is a high probability that parents will encounter elaborate antivaccination material on the world wide web. Factual refutational strategies alone are unlikely to counter the highly rhetorical appeals that shape these sites.

  • vaccination
  • immunisation
  • internet
  • world wide web

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