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Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaverby Arthur Allen
Synopses & Reviews
With employers offering free flu shots and pharmacies expanding into one-stop shops to prevent everything from shingles to tetanus, vaccines are ubiquitous in contemporary life. The past fifty years have witnessed an enormous upsurge in vaccines and immunization in the United States: American children now receive more vaccines than any previous generation, and laws requiring their immunization against a litany of diseases are standard. Yet, while vaccination rates have soared and cases of preventable infections have plummeted, an increasingly vocal cross section of Americans have questioned the safety and necessity of vaccines. In Vaccine Nation, Elena Conis explores this complicated history and its consequences for personal and public health.
Vaccine Nation opens in the 1960s, when government scientists—triumphant following successes combating polio and smallpox—considered how the country might deploy new vaccines against what they called the milder” diseases, including measles, mumps, and rubella. In the years that followed, Conis reveals, vaccines fundamentally changed how medical professionals, policy administrators, and ordinary Americans came to perceive the diseases they were designed to prevent. She brings this history up to the present with an insightful look at the past decades controversy over the implementation of the Gardasil vaccine for HPV, which sparked extensive debate because of its focus on adolescent girls and young women. Through this and other examples, Conis demonstrates how the acceptance of vaccines and vaccination policies has been as contingent on political and social concerns as on scientific findings.
By setting the complex story of American vaccination within the countrys broader history, Vaccine Nation goes beyond the simple story of the triumph of science over disease and provides a new and perceptive account of the role of politics and social forces in medicine.
"A timely, fair-minded and crisply written account."--
Vaccine Nation tells the recent history of how and why vaccines became such a prized but polemical part of American health care, politics, and culture. In the sixties, American children began to receive more vaccines than any previous generation, and laws requiring their immunization against a litany of diseases became common. In the decades that followed, vaccination rates soared, preventable infections plummeted, and popular acceptance of vaccines remained strong—even as an increasingly vocal cross-section of Americans questioned the safety and necessity of vaccines and the wisdom of related policies. Vaccine Nation examines the origins of some of todays most salient sources of vaccine skepticism. It describes how and why presidents from JFK to Clinton championed childhood vaccination from the White House. And it reveals that new vaccines fundamentally changed the ways health experts and lay Americans perceived the diseases they were designed to prevent. Chapters in the book examine how and why we vaccinate against specific infections—including measles, mumps, hepatitis B, and HPV—and how social movements of the late twentieth century posed profound, but previously overlooked, implications for how Americans today have come to think about vaccination and vaccines.
juxtaposes the stories of brilliant scientists with the industry's struggle to produce safe, effective, and profitable vaccines. It focuses on the role of military and medical authority in the introduction of vaccines and looks at why some parents have resisted this authority. Political and social intrigue have often accompanied vaccination--from the divisive introduction of smallpox inoculation in colonial Boston to the 9,000 lawsuits recently filed by parents convinced that vaccines caused their children's autism. With narrative grace and investigative journalism, Arthur Allen reveals a history illuminated by hope and shrouded by controversy, and he sheds new light on changing notions of health, risk, and the common good.
A fascinating account of vaccination's miraculous, inflammatory past and its uncertain future.
In 1796, as smallpox ravaged Europe, Edward Jenner injected a child with a benign version of the disease, then exposed the child to the deadly virus itself. The boy proved resistant to smallpox, and Jenner's risky experiment produced the earliest vaccination. In this deftly written account, journalist Arthur Allen reveals a history of vaccination that is both illuminated with hope and shrouded by controversy--from Jenner's discovery to Pasteur's vaccines for rabies and cholera, to those that safeguarded the children of the twentieth century, and finally to the tumult currently surrounding vaccination.
Faced with threats from anthrax to AIDS, we are a vulnerable population and can no longer depend on vaccines; numerous studies have linked childhood vaccination with various neurological disorders, and our pharmaceutical companies are more attracted to the profits of treatment than to the prevention of disease. With narrative grace and investigative journalism, Allen explores our shifting understanding of vaccination since its creation. 16 pages of illustrations.
About the Author
Arthur Allen is a Washington-based journalist who has written for the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Salon. He writes Slate's "Risk" column.
Table of Contents
1. Kennedys Vaccination Assistance Act
2. Polio, Measles, and the Dirty Disease Gang”
3. How Serious Is Mumps?
4. Carters Childhood Immunization Initiative
5. A Mothers Responsibility
6. Tampering with Nature
7. Clintons Vaccines for Children Program
8. Sex, Drugs, and Hepatitis B
9. Vaccine Risks and the New Media
10. Sex, Girls, and HPV
Appendix: The Science and Regulation of Vaccines
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