Despite evidence that vaccinations reduce incidences of disease and spread, certain individuals question vaccine usage and often abstain from vaccination (Dikema et al., 2005 & Salzberg, 2012). Not vaccinating increases the opportunity for certain diseases to enter communities as well as raises healthcare costs.

Existing research of anti-vaccination populations has focused largely on quantitative studies, rarely looking in depth at the individuals that make up this demographic. This study, using qualitative methods, investigated anti-vaccine attitudes, uncovering the underlying processes by which anti-vaccination opinions are created and maintained. Participants were recruited from The Pacific Northwest, a region with the strongest anti-vaccination attitudes in the United States (Omer et al., 2009 & WSDH, 2012). Data were collected using sit-down and telephone interviews, as well as through questionnaires, then coded based on grounded theory and apparent themes.

Results outlined the importance of social networks in creating and sustaining vaccination opinions. It was also discovered that participants based much of their decision to not vaccinate on anecdotal stories, rather than evidence backed sources. Understanding the deeper rationale of those who oppose vaccinations can help reduce vaccination concerns and potentially lead to public health policy that can increase vaccine use.

First Advisor

Leon Grunberg

Degree Type


Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2013