Cite as: Trubeta, S., 2018, 'Vaccination and the refugee camp: exercising the free choice of vaccination from an abject position in Germany and Greece', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1501269
This article explores the public discourses that accompany vaccination campaigns targeted at the refugees in the context of the European refugee/migrant crisis. The argument is that such campaigns are embedded in the provision of humanitarian healthcare and yet connect the refugees with the citizenry in the host countries in that both populations are deemed to share the universal need to vaccines and the right to accept or deny them. But if immunisation for citizens is a matter of liberal choice, as current scholarship argues, how much scope for individual decision is left to the camps’ occupants? In which way do discourses and practices of refugees’ vaccination correspond to the camps’ ambiguous characteristics of being places of emergency, where refugees lead an abject life, and still acting as possible bridges to host societies? I explore these questions drawing on contemporary sociological and social science scholarship on vaccination and the camp-debate and use two case studies conducted in Germany and Greece. The case studies reveal that the discourses on the refugees’ vaccination additionally reflect internal social tensions: in the German case related to vaccine hesitancy, and in the Greek case to controversy about the provision of public goods to foreigners and the inclusion of refugees in the local societies.
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