Aktiviteetti: Tapahtumaan osallistumisen ja tapahtuman järjestämisen tyypit › Konferensseihin, kursseille ja seminaareihin osallistuminen ja näiden järjestäminen
Trust or Compulsion? The Finnish Immunization Program in the 1950s Immunizations against childhood infections have saved millions of lives in modern era. However, anti-vaccine sentiments have lately become more common, and immunization rates have decreased in several countries. This has happened also in Finland, where vaccinations have been voluntary since 1952. The vaccines have become “victims of their own success” when several infections, such as diphtheria and measles have been eradicated. This paper will examine the beginning of childhood immunization program: legislation, practices and popular attitudes in the 1950s in Finland. The post-war era, late 1940s and 1950s constitute a special period in health care. New treatment methods, drugs and vaccines were introduced. Access to health services was widened through legislation and building infrastructure. In Finland, especially maternal and child health was prioritized. The Act on Public Maternal and Child Health Clinics entered into force already in 1944, during the war. Mortality decreased rapidly among children, which was partly caused by the widening immunization program against childhood diseases. In the inter-war period, the only immunization regulated by law was mandatory vaccination against smallpox. Despite sanctions the vaccination rates remained low because smallpox had all but vanished from Finland in the 20th century. However, during WWII voluntary immunization campaigns against TB and diphtheria were successfully completed. In 1952, the outdated vaccination act was renewed whereby all immunizations became voluntary. This meant that the immunization rates were largely dependent on the trust of the public towards the health care system and its personnel. The paper will analyze the arguments of the law proposal, the propaganda used by the experts to promote the incipient immunization program and the popular attitudes towards immunizations. The research material consists of articles in professional journals and interviews of families conducted in the 1950s. Analysis of the first years of the immunization program in post-war Finland will help to understand, which factors contribute to vaccine acceptance.