Lord Byron (1788-1824) as the precursor of celebrities endorsing vaccine hesitancy: A cultural anthropological lesson for COVID-19 immunisation strategies

Francesco M Galassi, Luigi Ingaliso, Valentina Vittori, Michael Habicht, Andrea Cossarizza, Elena Varotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Lord Byron can be classified as the prototype of contemporary celebrities endorsing pseudo-scientific views and opposing vaccination policies based on his public statements, while privately he appears to have had double standards since he had his page inoculated against smallpox. Through a review of the biomedical and historical literature this paper examines the role of the example given by celebrities during vaccination campaigns, focusing on the historical figure of Lord Byron. A reassessment of his writings on the topic of vaccination (cowpox inoculation) is then performed and put in the greater context of celebrities, past and present, commenting in favour or against immunisation policies. Byron's case demonstrates how health institutions should not underestimate the influence of ‘VIPs' on the success of vaccinations, and should seek their help and positive example when trying to persuade the general population of the importance of vaccinations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-190
Number of pages4
JournalAnthropologie (Czech Republic)
Volume60
Issue number1
Early online date21 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Vaccine
  • Prevention
  • COVID-19
  • Jenner
  • Smallpox
  • Byron

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