Vaccine Hesitancy and Individualism
An Interview with Jennifer Reich
When Jennifer Reich’s Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines came out with New York University Press in 2016, vaccine hesitancy was just beginning to receive national attention. The Disneyland measles outbreak had occurred the year before, and an increasing number of parents were switching to charter schools and home schooling in order to avoid the vaccine requirements of the public-school system. Reich interviewed many of these parents and took their reasoning seriously. She discovered that although their decisions do not make sense from a public health perspective, they were actually privatizing the healthcare decisions relevant to their families in ways being promoted by corporations and the government. What the privatization of health care means for the public sphere was one topic of our conversation. At the end of the interview, Reich links privatization with the growing distrust of governmental and scientific expertise to describe a crisis of knowledge that extends far beyond current vaccine debates.