The Poisonous Vaccine: A Discourse Analysis of the HPV-vaccine

Mikkel Rask Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis will focus on the declining numbers of Danish female citizens receiving the vaccination against cervical cancer, also known as the HPV-vaccine.
From the year 2005 when the vaccination was made available in Denmark, the number of girls to receive the vaccination was increasing. From 2010 to 2012 the percentage of girls receiving the vaccine was at a steady 79 %, until 2013 when the numbers started to drop drastically to only 4 % in 2016. Why did so many girls choose not to receive the vaccination?
In Denmark around 99 girls every year die from cervical cancer and many more suffer from the side effects of the operation they receive when diagnosed with the cervical cancer.
This thesis investigates why the girls and their families chose not to be vaccinated with the HPV- vaccine. In order to answer this question, the analysis of this thesis will be divided into three parts;
The first part of the analysis is called “A historic analysis” and will investigate how specific vaccines and vaccination has been perceived and viewed through-out history. The purpose of this part is to determine which words people have used to describe vaccination, and how people initially reacted when the first vaccine was invented. This will include an investigation of discourses used to assign specific meaning to vaccination. This part of the analysis will also include an analysis of the discourses surrounding the MMR-vaccine (in Denmark called MFR-vaccine) as part of an investigation of how and why specific meaning gets linked to a vaccine.
The second part of the analysis is called “An analysis of the discourse surrounding the HPV- vaccine” and will investigate how the discourse surrounding the HPV-vaccine has evolved from the first year of its availability until the year 2016. This part of the analysis will also investigate the link between perception of vaccination in our society through-out history and the sudden decline in numbers of girls receiving the HPV-vaccine. Furthermore, this part will analyse how the use of words describing the HPV-vaccine has evolved and how it can be linked to the historic use of words describing vaccination.
The third part of the analysis is called “The poisonous vaccine”. This part will investigate why and how girls and families decline the offer of a vaccine. A part of this investigation will be to investigate which meaning and what kind of words that are being used to reject the vaccine in a way that makes sense, and which other discourses that are being used to reject the vaccine.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages80