Hopes, hesitancy and the risky business of vaccine development

Michael Calnan, Tom Douglass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Recent policy conversations about vaccination programmes primarily target the problem of vaccine hesitancy and the lack of public participation at the level required for community immunity, or herd immunity. In this editorial, we will first explore the nature of public vaccine hesitancy, review what is known and demonstrate the significance of understanding vaccine hesitancy in the COVID-19 context. We argue that sociological research indicates that to sufficiently grasp vaccine hesitancy in the twenty-first century it is necessary to consider several aspects: the nature of medical decision-making, trust, risk and social responsibility, and the role of information technology and various forms of media. There are also questions about what influences the (successful) development and provision of a vaccine – issues that have been brought sharply into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, in the second half of the editorial, we move to consider the supply side of vaccination. We examine what shapes this configuration and consider the role of key players such as those who manufacture the vaccines and, in turn, those who regulate development, again with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-304
Number of pages14
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number5-6
Early online date11 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
With thanks to Dr. Richard Bates for recommendations relating to the social history of medicine and vaccination. And to the editor Dr Patrick Brown for a number of highly useful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • COVID-19
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • risk
  • trust
  • vaccine development


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