A Turn-of-the-Century ‘Vaccine Revolt’ in Brazil Carries Seeds of Today
Anti-Science Arguments, Mistrust of Public Health, and Fake News Incited the 1904 Uprising Against Mandatory Smallpox Immunization
On November 9, 1904, the Brazilian newspaper A Notícia published the government’s vaccination plan against smallpox.
The following day, the so-called Vaccine Revolt began in Rio de Janeiro, then the country’s capital. The popular uprising left at least 30 dead and shook the structures of Brazil’s then-young republic.
The circumstances that led to this unprecedented revolt—a swirl of anti-science arguments, denialism about the benefits of vaccination, and fake news about the effectiveness of the vaccine—are not too distant from what’s happening in Brazil today. As with smallpox in the early 20th century, …