In 200 pages, Dr. Offit summarizes the history of the anti-vaccine movement and the current and future consequences of refusing these life-saving shot...moreIn 200 pages, Dr. Offit summarizes the history of the anti-vaccine movement and the current and future consequences of refusing these life-saving shots. Dr. Offit relies on statistics and medical research to make his arguments but he also illustrates them with stories of individuals whose children have suffered, and sometimes died, because they or their peers were not vaccinated.
Vaccination alone will not protect all children. Vaccination is a social compact; there will always be babies too young to receive vaccines, and some people's bodies will never develop the appropriate antibodies even with vaccination. Immunocompromised patients, such as those in chemotherapy, lose the immunity they developed from past vaccines.
One of the most heartbreaking sections of the book is a long list of cases in which parents were acquitted after withholding life-saving medical treatment from their children. Apparently, you can't leave your kid in the car while you run into the grocery store, but it is fine to let a diabetic child die because you don't believe in insulin treatment. Why is this relevant to vaccines? Offit believes that in light of these legal cases, the courts will never deny parents the right to refuse vaccines on religious or philosophical grounds. He sees two possible scenarios that will increase vaccination rates back to safe levels. One is for parents to talk to each other about the absolute necessity of vaccination. Science and stats don't convince anti-vaxxers but sometimes parental encouragement is successful.
The other scenario is to wait. Wait until vaccination rates drop even lower and the United States experiences an epidemic and hundreds or even thousands of children die from a preventable disease. Then, maybe, the anti-vaxxers will realize the value of immunization. Let's try not to get there.(less)
This is a relatively quick read about the Supreme Court as it has functioned under President Obama. Toobin clearly leans to the Obama viewpoint but th...moreThis is a relatively quick read about the Supreme Court as it has functioned under President Obama. Toobin clearly leans to the Obama viewpoint but this is not a political screed. He covers major cases, culminating in the Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, and weaves in stories about past and current justices. (less)
I am returning this book to the library because I've had it over a month and cannot renew again. I read about a third and it is a fascinating book abo...moreI am returning this book to the library because I've had it over a month and cannot renew again. I read about a third and it is a fascinating book about the presidencies from FDR to GWB and how each president coped with the health care issue. The authors include any personal or family health issues that might have shaped that president's view of health care. The book is well-written and dense with useful information and some wonkish details about legislation and almost-legislation. The turmoil surrounding the passage of Medicare makes me hopeful that we will one day have national health care.
I hope to finish this someday but it is not a quick read and I have other books calling my name. (less)
No one would question the fortitude and perseverance of Dr. Susan Wicklund. In her early 20s, she was a single mom on welfare. She went to college, th...moreNo one would question the fortitude and perseverance of Dr. Susan Wicklund. In her early 20s, she was a single mom on welfare. She went to college, then medical school, then devoted her career to providing safe abortions. I had a vague idea that abortion providers were harassed by protesters and I'd read articles about extreme cases in which protesters murdered doctors and clinic staff. But I had no idea of the day-to-day struggles these doctors negotiate. Dr. Wicklund was threatened, barricaded into her home, stalked and terrorized with phone calls and letters. Her memoir details her efforts to provide healthcare for women, including abortions, while maintaining her own safety and a semblance of a personal life. It is not a particularly well-written book. One of her friends co-wrote the book and it suffers from an undercurrent of, "What a martyr! What devotion to the cause!" Those things are true, but I could figure that out for myself. Dr. Wicklund talks a little about the changing state of women's healthcare and I would have liked to hear more about her views on that. I recommend the book despite its flaws; this is a visceral story about one person's convictions and how she constructed a life that allowed her to walk the walk.(less)