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Another vaccine, another story: BCG vaccination against tuberculosis in India, 1948 to 1960

Outra vacina, outra história: a vacinação de BCG contra tuberculose na Índia, 1948 a 1960

Niels Brimnes About the author

Through an examination of mass BCG vaccination against tuberculosis in India between 1948 and 1960 this article draws attention to the diversity of the history of vaccination. The features of vaccination campaigns often differed from those of the celebrated campaign to eradicate smallpox. Due to differences between smallpox and tuberculosis as well as between the vaccines developed against them, an analysis of BCG mass vaccination against tuberculosis seems particularly well suited for this purpose. Three points of difference are identified. First, in non-Western contexts BCG vaccination procedures were modified to a greater extent than vaccination against smallpox. Second, tuberculosis lacked the drama and urgency of smallpox and BCG vaccination campaigns suffered more from recruitment problems than did the more "heroic" smallpox eradication campaign. Third, the BCG vaccine was contested in medical circles and was much better suited than the vaccine against smallpox as a vehicle for the articulation of concerns about post-colonial modernization.

Vaccination; Tuberculosis; BCG; International public health; India


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