Science Fiction Today – Immunization

IVaccines and immunizations are a huge topic in today’s world and extremely controversial, which is part of the reason that looking at where science fiction goes with immunizations is so much more interesting. There are so many facets with where immunizations go in science fiction stories. For some stories it is not brought up at all because the hows of a healthy society just do not come up. In some stories we end up with miracle technology that somehow solves all illnesses. People end up scanning themselves every once in a while and the technology has a way to just remove the disease or get rid of the problem.

The other part that often comes up is forced or coercive immunization. Where the government or some entity in power decides that immunization is the best option for society, but feeling that the only way to guarantee that it happens is to either force the issue or do it in a way that people do not know about it.

Technological Miracle

In many science fiction stories their seems to be a miracle technology that solves all or at least most problems. If you look at Star Trek there are so many common diseases that just do not seem to be around anymore because they seem to be able to solve most known diseases pretty quickly. Then you have Elysium where the rich people have access to a body scanning machine that finds what ails you and solves the problem.

Now these two stories show the two different uses for this sort of technology. One is that it is available to all and society can live longer because of these advancement. The other option is that the technology is only available to those who can afford it, furthering the divide because suddenly the rich can stay healthy and the poor fight for the scraps.

Forced Immunization

The other option is that we force immunizations onto people because it is believed that it is for the betterment of society. The situation that really comes to mind is Serenity, where it was not about disease, but actually for how society behaves.

At the same time it shows an example of how forced immunization could function. If it was something that could be pumped into the air or put into the water supply would a government or agency go that far? In Serenity it obviously goes very wrong and forcing it on everyone does not work because for some people it would cause complications.

Immunizations are such a complicated topic because of the perceived risks and benefits to not just individuals, but to society as a whole.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!

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12 responses to “Science Fiction Today – Immunization

  1. Never mind the fiction. In reality immunisation against certain diseases is essential as every parent should know,

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    • And yet not everyone agrees with that statement. I do not want to go too much into what is going on now because the comments that you read on any discussion of vaccinations devolves into a shouting match. At the same time as someone about to have a child the recent measles outbreak scares the crap out of me.

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  2. The role playing game “Dead Reign” has a neat play on this – it’s a miracle immunization drug that causes the zombie apocalypse. Half the world gets the shot because it’s supposed to cure cancer and all these other diseases, but then anyone he gets it ends up turning into a zombie.

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  3. Serenity is one of my favourite films, and I loved Firefly! πŸ™‚ The machine in Elysium was pretty cool, but it wasn’t used fairly, and this goes back to an earlier point from your A to Z posts – only the privileged could use it.

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    • There are a lot of other stories that I have read that where those in power purposefully spread a disease that of course the powerful are immunized against to try and cull part of the population. At the same time in most stories this goes badly.

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      • Absolutely it does, because the underdog will always fight for freedom! The stories where the powers that be try to remove that freedom make an interesting tale because we love nothing more than witnessing an insurrection – a balancing of the scales if you will. Immunisation is fine, as it’s done in Star Trek when it serves a purpose and it’s part of society, but forcing anything on people is always going to spell trouble! Great post πŸ™‚

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  4. Indeed a difficult topic. I think there are *certain* vaccinations that it would be foolish not to get, especially if it could harm others… but obviously a mass distribution through the air would be going too far.

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  5. Pingback: Science Fiction Today – Libraries | Comparative Geeks

  6. Okay, I give in… Chappie has nothing to say about immunization. πŸ˜‰

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