Alla's Reviews > Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver

Vaccine by Arthur Allen
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's review
Feb 25, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read from February 14 to 25, 2010

I deliberately started my vaccine research with this book - this is a history of vaccines from the times of Jenner and variolation to George Bush being vaccinated for now non-existent smallpox on TV to demonstrate his belief in the threat of bio-terrorism. I expected for this book to be as neutral as possible for a text on a controversial subject. As a parent to be, I am trying to go into the issue with an open mind - it is after all about the safety of my child, not which political group I happen to identify with the most. On this particular criterion of neutrality, however, Allen does not quite measure up. For instance, after describing numerous confirmed cases of vaccine injuries, he would still refer to vaccines as "completely safe" or "entirely safe" without providing any justification for his logic. As a reasonable human being, I understand that both diseases and vaccines come with risks. What scares me is the denial or belittling of risks which leaves me in no position to compare them intelligently.

Another quite annoying aspect is Allen's description of those people who don't vaccinate. He admits it that in some communities people who don't vaccinate are mostly PhD's, quite successful and well-off, but he mentions it in passing. However, an entire chapter is devoted to describing wackos in sects and with no understanding or respect for science as an example of the people "who prefer the whooping cough". That is offensive, as many people I personally know who choose to not vaccinate or vaccinate selectively (which is the option that I am leaning towards) are very reasonable people who did their homework.

This is a thoroughly researched text, however, and it serves its purpose. Definitely a good starting point for those parents who want to know everything there is to know about vaccinations to make the right decision.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by rachel (new)

rachel uh oh, it's time for reading up on vaccines!

Alla Yep! To make sure I know everything there is to know without getting a degree in immunology, I am starting with the history of vaccine. I must say, the early history has been really gross so far (pus and human corpses abound). :)))

message 3: by rachel (new)

rachel what lovely reading - good thing you are past the morning/afternoon/evening sickness of your pregnancy! you are such a scholar. . . whatever you learn, please pass onto me, because i highly doubt that i will want to read that much about the history of immunology when i'm pregnant. :)

Alla You bet - there are about 15 more books on vaccines on my reading list. :) See what happens when I'm out of school and have no papers to write :))))

message 5: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Kaplan I have a daughter who now has vaccine induced encephalopathy. Keep doing all your research and making sure you do what your gut tells you to. is a great place to look. Also...Dr. Sears has a book out too. Check the VAERS website out too. Good luck with all of this. It's so nice to hear that people are doing research. I wish I had.

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