Popular Culture and Vaccines

Throughout history, public health workers, agencies and those who supported them have used different kinds of media to encourage vaccination. Benjamin Franklin used a pamphlet to promote smallpox inoculation. Cartoonists used their talents to support Jenner’s vaccine:

Jenner Cartoon
Jenner and his two colleagues seeing off three anti-vaccination opponents, the dead are littered at their feet. Colored etching by I. Cruikshank, 1808. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

Today, there are many types of media that can be used to promote vaccination. The advent of social networks has made the dissemination of these materials cheap and simple. Technologies like smartphones with cameras and video software embedded in them have also made it simple to create videos. One recent trend in vaccine promotion has been to take popular songs and replace the lyrics with something pro-vaccine.

Here is a sample of some videos created by individuals and groups to promote vaccination. First, is “My Shot (Vaccine Version)” a parody of “My Shot” from the musical Hamilton:

Another parody of the same song by Nathan Boonstra, MD, a pediatrician and his collagues:

ZDogg, MD (real name Zubin Damania, MD) created a parody of “Billionaire” to talk about vaccines:

Another parody, this time of “Old Town Road”:

From Australia, a group of kids give us their take on vaccines:

A lecturer at Brown University gave a lecture on the vaccine cultural controversy and punctuated it with his own parody song of “You Give Love A Bad Name” by Bon Jovi:

Here is a song about the influenza vaccine, a parody of “Whatever It Takes”:

Finally, a song about the 1918 influenza pandemic, with some interesting visuals:

If you have any other videos that we should know about, feel free to share them in the comments.

Author: René F. Najera, DrPH

I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, an online project by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. All opinions expressed on these blog posts are not necessarily those of the College or any of my employers. Check out my professional profile on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/renenajera Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

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