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Framings of Vaccination in Post-socialism: Insights of Research Conducted in Serbia
The paper juxtaposes the framings of vaccination among medical professionals and laypeople that have emerged in Serbian post-socialist context. The differing perspectives are contextualized against their political, economic, socio-cultural and historical backgrounds. The analysis demonstrates that medical professionals still cling to the previous socialist principles in securing public health, as opposed to the laypeople’s practices and views which are mostly in line with the current post-socialist context. This is particularly evident with respect to the notion of solidarity that plays a significant role in the framings of vaccination on both sides. Thus, medical professionals especially construct vaccination as an act of solidarity by emphasizing that wide vaccination coverage provides protection to those who for some reason have not developed immunity. Such argument directly appeals to the values of collective solidarity as particularly prominent social principle in socialist period. However, medical professionals also fail to acknowledge that the socio-cultural context has changed after Serbia entered the process of post-socialist transformation. In other words, new social circumstances have shaped people’s practices and views as predominantly driven by self-interest and individualism. Therefore, laypeople frame vaccination differently, e.g. as putting one’s own child at risk for the benefit of others, which sometimes leads to vaccine scepticism and causes significant drop in vaccination rates, followed by adverse consequences. Laypeople’s expectations in new context are also reflected in some important questions they pose about the state’s role and responsibilities regarding public health and vaccination.