Background Outbreaks of disease are common fodder for political debate and public discourse. In the past decade alone, health officials have faced a steady stream of serious public health threats, from H1N1 to Ebola and Zika, as well as large outbreaks of measles and other highly contagious illnesses. These incidents command intense media attention and focus public conversation around questions of risk and responsibility. Analysis This article examines major frames in Canadian news coverage of the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2015 to show how public health events are translated into social problems that magnify moral and political concerns. It discusses how parents who reject or express worries about vaccination were portrayed, and traces which solutions were presented to address the problem of vaccine preventable illness. Conclusion and implications Media coverage focused heavily on "anti-vaxxers" as central characters in the outbreak story. The coverage conformed largely to an established biomedical narrative, in which medical and health experts set the definitional parameters around the outbreak causes and consequences, and the preventive measures that should be taken to prevent future occurrences.

, , ,
Canadian Journal of Communication
School of Journalism and Communication

Greenberg, J, Capurro, G. (Gabriela), Dubé, E. (Eve), & Driedger, S.M. (S. Michelle). (2019). Measles, mickey, and the media: Anti-vaxxers and health risk narratives during the 2015 Disneyland outbreak. Canadian Journal of Communication, 44(2), 175–189. doi:10.22230/cjc.2019v44n2a3346