Vaccination Back in the USSR: A Historical Analysis of Soviet Vaccination Programs and Their Effects
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Vaccines are a hotly debated topic in many communities around the world, including those in Eastern Europe. Additionally, Eastern Europe has experienced outbreaks of various infectious diseases, such as measles, in recent years. This thesis aims to investigate the forces behind these phenomena, as well as explore the potential connections between Soviet history, Eastern European culture, current disease outbreaks, and modern-day vaccine hesitancy. Modern outbreaks and vaccine hesitancy in Eastern Europe are connected and influenced by historical Soviet vaccination practices. As such, it is necessary to conduct a historical overview and analysis of Soviet vaccination campaigns, rhetoric, and governmental policy in order to better understand how and why these circumstances developed. In particular, this thesis will examine three vaccination campaigns (smallpox, polio, and measles) that took place across three different periods of Soviet history and connect historical events with their contemporary consequences. In doing so, the epidemiologic situation in Eastern Europe will be elucidated through an exploration of historical, cultural, and political factors.