Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver Info

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"A timely, fair-minded and crisply written
account."―New York Times Book
Review

Vaccine 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.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver:

1

July 28, 2007

Pro vaccine propaganda
Readers should beware of the author's point of view as expressed in this book. Contrary to mass public belief, vaccines are not safe. They contain live viruses and neurotoxins, and are often contaminated with animal viruses from the culture mediums (i.e. cancer causing simian virus 40.) They are given to infants at a time when their brains and neurological systems are undeveloped and in combinations that have never been tested for safety. We are now giving 48 doses of 14 different vaccines to children by the time they reach kindergarten. Forty years ago, children received between 8 and 10 doses of 5 different vaccines. Instead of our children experiencing greater health as a result, we have more chronic illness among children than we did 40 years ago when we had far fewer vaccines. Asthma, severe food allergies, autism, ADD/ADHD, and diabetes were almost unheard of when I was a child, but are now affecting children at epidemic proportions. If these changes could be attributed to toxins in the environment, then the same proportion of adults facing these ailments would be in evidence, as adults have been exposed to and accumulated more toxins than infants and young children. Adult ratios of these ailments are still relatively low, so science must examine carefully what common denominators may be affecting children. An obvious answer is to look toward the toxic excessive vaccine schedule that is legally mandated by governments. More, rather than less, confidence would result in the vaccine system if careful long term studies could prove they were safe. Unfortunately studies comparing the overall health outcomes of vaccinated VS. unvacinated populations have never been done, nor have studies proving the safety of giving vaccines in combination with one another. Toxic ingredients including mercury and aluminum have also never been studied for safety.

The critical thing for parents to know is that vaccine manufactureres are exempt from liability for their products, and manufacturers are able to pay the FDA to fast track approval of their products, which has resulted in weakening the regulatory function of the agency. We now have a system that gives immunity for flawed or dangerous vaccines and which lacks oversight to prevent failures, while at the same time legally requiring parents to vaccinate without recourse. Every parent should be frightened out of thier minds at the prospect of injecting their babies with products that have undergone such inadequate scientific scrutiny and that are exempt from liability.

This author does a great disservice to the hundreds of thousands of parents who have taken a perfectly healthy baby with all of the potential and promise of a healthy and productive life to the pediatician for a well baby visit, and who has come home with a child that within hours or days is seizing, experiencing severe chronic diahrea, feverish, listless, comatose, drifting away into the world of autism or at worst case, dead. These parents know that it was the vaccine, not some phantom gene, that caused their babies harm. Their concerns cannot and should not be dismissed, as it is they who are sounding the alarm for the rest of society.

It is the advent of good sanitation, good nutrition and better access to healthcare which has resulted in reduced incidence of disease. Ask yourself - are children healthier today than they were 40 years ago? Do I feel comforatable giving my tiny baby 6 or 7 vaccines in one visit? Am I comfortable with the skyrocketing rates of autism, allergies and other chronic illness in children that can not be addressed adequately by current medical or scientific knowledge? Are the medical establishments ignoring the legitimate concerns of parents in light of strong evidence that there is a problem in the system? A better book to read about this topic is by Dr. Richard Halvorsen called "The Truth About Vaccines."
5

January 29, 2007

Very enjoyable with an important message
This will appeal to many people, from history buffs to health professionals and those of us who also love a good story. Myself, I always enjoy the human behavior aspect to how things came to be in our society, and the story of vaccination is terrific. Aside from the fun aspect of this book, Mr. Allen manages to write compassionately about the real people who have believed that their children's autism was caused by vaccines. There has been so much propaganda and spurious argumentation around this issue (particularly by people like Don Imus--he should be ashamed of himself), which has unfortunately lead many parents of children with autism to believe that vaccination caused their child's disability. I hope very much that Mr. Allen's work will help shine the light of reason on that sad situation.
1

April 5, 2007

That's right - let's produce more autistic children
Having read this book, I am outraged at the lies. I, as many other who have researched the vaccination debate am completely outraged that vaccines are still in practice. Denmark, who stopped using Mercury years ago dropped their autism rates by 2/3. Vaccinations are and will be more closely tied in the future to ADHD, ADD, Asperger's Syndrome and Autism. AS WELL AS Sudden Infant Death. WAKE UP AMERICA AND SEE VACCINATIONS FOR WHAT THEY REALLY ARE.............HUGE PROFIT MAKERS FOR AN ELITE FEW.......AT WHAT COSTS? The costs of our children's health.
1

February 1, 2007

Skip this one
The only accurate part of this book is where Allen refers to CDC scientists believing that they do "God's work" and that parents questioning vaccine safety are "questioning God". That accurately reflects the current and past culture of those proporting to do vaccine safety research at the CDC. This also explains the lack of accountability at the CDC in the face of the mounting problems with the current vaccination schedule.

The remaining arguments are flimsy at best. Allen is no scientist and he has bought into many lies, hook, line and sinker. Do your kids a favor - move on... Buy a rational and balanced book about toxicology before vaccinating.
3

June 6, 2007

Revealing the history of the first 2 1/2 centuries of vaccination
XXXXX

"In telling the story of vaccination, this book makes an assessment that is as fair as I can make it, based on the available evidence. I [the author] am neither a scientist nor someone with personal experience of a severe vaccine reaction [vaccines carry some measure of risk to the patient]...This book deals with preventive vaccines [that produce an artificial immunity] against infectious diseases [smallpox, polio, measles, whooping cough, etc.)...a vaccine's success as a public health measure relies on three legs of support: (1) the public, which must be confident of the safety and worth of the procedure; (2) manufactures, who seek to generate profits by making vaccines; and (3) government and public-health [workers] who...[help] further population-wide health goals. As [the reader] will see throughout this book, none of these legs is entirely stable."

The above is found in the introduction of this well-researched, easy-to-read book by writer Arthur Allen. Be aware that the author also says in the introduction the following: "I do...bring personal agendas to this book." The book itself is divided into three parts.

In the first two parts, Allen describes the history of the development of vaccines in a time when there were no clinical ethics boards or informed consent laws, the defeat of such infectious diseases as smallpox & polio, and public resistance to widespread vaccination. There's a lot here to disturb both proponents and opponents of mandatory vaccination.

The author devotes the third and last part of his book to the vaccine controversies of the last few decades. I found that this relatively brief analysis was not well connected to the first two parts. Actually, I can't understand why Allen added this third part except to "bring [his] personal agendas" to the "controversial story" of vaccination.

Allen does, in my opinion, highlight the crux of the vaccination issue by quoting somebody else:

"As in all wars, some soldiers are injured...At present, the draftees [mainly babies and small children] injured in the war on infectious diseases are in effect told by conscripting authorities, `Thank you for your contribution to the war effort, and best of success in coping with your [life-long] disability [caused by the vaccination].'"

There are two sets of black and white pictures or "plates" found in the book consisting of fourteen and sixteen pictures respectively. My favorite picture has the following caption:

"Six million New Yorkers were vaccinated within a few weeks after smallpox appeared in the city in 1947. Contemporaries were struck at the willingness of Americans to accept vaccination in this postwar period--even though the [smallpox] vaccine killed and maimed far more people that did smallpox itself."

Finally, those readers seeking a comprehensive treatment of the vaccine debate and history of vaccination outside the United States should go elsewhere.

In conclusion, readers seeking a solid history of the first 2 1/2 centuries of vaccination will find a lot to think about in this book!!

*** 1/2

(first published 2007; introduction; three parts or 10 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 440 pages; acknowledgements; notes; index)

XXXXX
2

August 19, 2009

A Biased and Interesting Book
Arthur Allen freely admits that he is biased in writing this book, calling himself a "vaccine obsessive" and claims that a doctor saved his life from an infection as a child, so he owes a lot to doctors. But he does a good job presenting his side of the issue and the history of vaccines.

However, that doesn't mean that he has to demonize anyone who opposes his view and that of established medicine. He could have simply reported the facts for his side of the case, but he chose to slander the opposition whenever he could, for example calling them "mavericks, cure peddlars, slackers, fruitcakes, vaccine shunners, living in a spooky world with a profound misunderstanding of science."

He is especially drawn to religious fanatics, mainly Christian, whom he apparently hates. He went out of his way to visit "kooks" wherever he could find them, and then make fun of them.

If Allen was a journalist instead of a mere reporter, he would have fairly researched both sides of the controversy. He would have talked to the credible experts opposed to vaccination. You won't find any expert of any stature opposed to vaccination in this book, like Dr. Robert Mendelsohn or Dr. Andrew Saul, just two examples. Vaccine scientists are just a little lower than angels here.

The really key issues are avoided,like whether diseases like polio and diptheria went away because of better sanitation and the subsidence of the virus, or because of the vaccine. Polio subsided in Europe without the massive vaccination program used in the US, Why?

Another key issue is whether vaccines cause diseases like autism. The unfortunate linking between mercury based thimerasol and autism set the autistic kids up for a fall. As soon as thimerasol is removed from vaccines, the authorities can say "see, that didn't cause it!"

The fact is that vaccines contain several ingredients that can freak out a kid's immune system, and babies don't even have a well developed immune system anyway. They include inactivated viruses, nasty chemicals like detergents, mercury, aluminum, etc., occasional live viruses and foreign tissue from the source media (like chicken or monkey cells)

The biggest missing issue of all is prevention and an honest cost calculation for vaccines. If vaccines cost $8 each for a cheap vaccine, we can see what the total cost is for the population. It is big bucks. It includes all the time for doctors and nurses in pediatric clinics. But not everyone succumbs to viruses, many avoid them or quickly overcome them. Why isn't Allen curious why this is? He stumbles over the truth on page 340, mentioning that Buttram said that "vitamin C prevents polio" but quickly picks himself up, dusts himself off and stepped around it, as Winston Churchill quipped.

Dr. Frederick Klenner cured 60 cases of polio in 1948 with ascorbate (vitamin C)and wrote a medical paper that was presented at an AMA seminar June 10, 1949, but they ignored it. They were looking for a vaccine, not a cure.

So, what would the cost comparison be between curing a small number of infected individuals with a perfectly safe, cheap and effective treatment, versus innoculating the entire population and possibly killing a few in the process? Vaccines are money makers for medical staff, even if not for the manufacturers.

This is the Achilles heel of the vaccine theory and it urgently needs to be discussed, but you won't find it in this book.

W.G. Whitney
St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
1

May 28, 2007

Vaccines can kill
My sister received a flu vaccine last year. Within days she was in the hospital and came within inches of losing her life. She was diagnosed with myotitis brought on by the flu vaccine, a rather common illness which is infrequently discussed. Further readings found that the increasing level of flu shots has not improved mortality rates for the flu (which are small to begin with) and enforced shots in the military have killed and handicapped many of our nation's soldiers. Of course, these kinds of stories and this science are left out of Allen's one-sided account. Vaccines can save lives, but they can kill too.
4

March 1, 2009

Balanced, high quality evidence, easy to read
I will state my bias upfront: prior to reading this book, I thought vaccines were a great preventative health tool. However, I also wanted more information from both sides of the debate.

I picked this book up because I wanted an opinion that was neither from the medical nor the anti-vaccine establishments... And I was not disappointed. Allen writes a balanced, interesting, easy-to-read examination of vaccines from their conception to now, with many of the successes AND failures along the way.

What I appreciated most about the book is that unlike much of the vaccine "information" you will find on the internet, when he claims a point, he backs it up with the reference (52 pages of them in fact) in case you doubt it. He is thorough in his investigation and gives equal "airtime" to both sides of the issue. His conclusions are transparent and well justified.

As mentioned in other reviews, the book is split into historical and more current chapters. After reading the first historical chapter, I skipped to the last one and ended up reading the book backwards. I don't think I lost anything that way. So feel free to pick and choose from the chapters as your interests change.

Balanced, reliable information on vaccines that I think any parent with questions should review... He debunks a lot of myths with great credibility. I learned a lot.
5

May 20, 2007

An engrossing read
I am interested in all aspects of science, particularly recent controversies. This book covers the mixed history of vaccines in a very thorough way. The author does not hesitate to criticize vaccines, and points out with great clarity those problems that did occur with shots in the past. I especially enjoyed how he was able to bring the personalities of the characters so vividly to life. But his overall conclusion is that vaccines are presently safer than ever before. And that's not because he is a "pharma tool", but because he has really looked at this issue and has made a rational, realistic conclusion.

This book deserves to be read by everyone, and in particular by those parents hesitating over the question of whether to vaccinate their children.
5

May 12, 2007

Topic is timely
and the author does a good research job and then takes the time to document all his sources. This is why I still buy books and don't take what I see on the internet too seriously. Those who still believe that vaccines are to blame for autism or other ills their children contract won't like this book. Those who don't believe that members of a society have a certain obligation to one another as a result of living in a community won't like this book. I think that author is a little degoratory when speaking about the movements that have sprung up around the previously mentioned misconceptions but to give him his due, he does methodically go through all the material, studies etc that have been done to test these unproven hypothesis, sooooooooo. I think this is a very well written and well researched book.
1

February 12, 2009

Tired of Unsupported Opinions
This author is just another vaccine hack who has no evidence to support his theories and presents nothing but his own opinions that frankly have no credibility. These kind of fear tactics, government regulation, and nonsense is why the vaccine program is falling apart. Why are autism rates in non-vaccinated children around the world non-existent but in the US and UK, the rates are exponential? Why were polio rates on the decline before the vaccine, but the government does not tell anyone that fact? Why do more people die from the flu vaccine than the flu? Why would a pediatrician not give a penicillin shot to every newborn in the world for fear of allergic reaction, but the CDC thinks its okay to stick 48 vaccines in every child and think that some of them will not have an issue?

Our entire vaccine program is a joke, and as a parent, please do not listen blindly to this guy or the CDC. They do not have your best interest. Research each vaccine yourself and decide what is best for your children. A better book is "The Vaccine Book" by Dr. Bob Sears. It states the facts of every vaccine and lets you decide instead of the broad stroke approach.
5

April 22, 2008

Great Examination of the Issues
In approaching this book, I was hoping for an examination of both the medical and cultural history of vaccines, and I was not disappointed. The book starts at the beginning for the US with smallpox vaccination (using very, very crude methods) and works all the way to present day.
The book's subtitle portrays the author's attitude perfectly - "The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver" - the author's bias is that sure, there has been considerable controversy over the vaccines, but in the long run they have benefited society and humanity. The book definitely delves into the controversy - approximately the last 200 pages deal with post-1980 society, with extensive discussion of modern day controversies surrounding, and how the cultural and political landscape of the US has changed since World War II and thus changed vaccination. If anything, I wish the author would have discussed more about the earlier anti-vaccine groups, instead of focusing a lot on the recent issues with pertussis and thimerosal.
The current anti-vaccine groups do not like this book - just look at the one star reviews. In all fairness, the author does delve into their concerns, interviewing them extensively, and does not treat vaccines like they are the cure-all, but the anti-vaccine groups do come off as being, well, living with different perceptions than the rest of us. So, it's really not for them, but if you want a reasonable look at the facts, this is a good book to pick up.
5

March 10, 2008

Good book
Personally, I thought this book was about a 4-star, but I decided to give it 5 to somewhat counteract all the 1-star reviews by anti-vax nutjobs. Good book though, well worth the time spent reading it.
5

December 8, 2007

Solid Contribution to the History of Medicine in the Western World
I thoroughly enjoyed Arthur Allen's book "Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver" (2007). The concept of vaccination is unique because, unlike asthma sprays, insulin shots, or liquid penicillin, vaccines prevent rather than battle disease. Allen highlights that during the first 200 years of vaccination's history, it could only stop smallpox, which was finally eradicated in 1980. None of my daughters born during that decade received any protection from smallpox as a result. There was no need for it. The medical establishment built upon a foundation of success and increasing credibility during the twentieth century and inaugurated campaigns to eliminate polio, malaria, measles, and hepatitis B too.

Life expectancy increased from 47 to 60 between 1900 and 1930 and medical doctors had become the most respected professionals. Many become celebrities and others became martyrs, such as Dr. Walter Reed for his work on yellow fever. Vaccination was one aspect of life in the twentieth century that improved the quality of life as outlined in my book: A World Perspective through 21st Century Eyes

Subsequent to World War II, vaccine development accelerated and conquered a number of major diseases. Public health effectively grew out of the scientific advances to tame diseases besides smallpox, which included the following, to name a few: Diphtheria, Polio, Pertussis (whooping cough), Measles and Rubella, Tetanus, Mumps, Typhoid, and many more.

Military vaccinations had proved successful in shielding troops from diseases that cost millions of lives in previous wars. Soldiers were inoculated to prevent typhoid fever, tetanus, smallpox, cholera, and the plague. It raised the power of this preventive technique to comparable status with "antibiotics, isolation, sanitation, and better disease treatment in general." For example, filtered water and pasteurized milk buried the typhoid bacterium, and therefore, it did not become a universal vaccine. Only during times of floods, for example, was the typhoid vaccine used. My mother and her family received typhoid shots from the Winnipeg Health Department during the Great Flood of 1950.

By 1955, government and public health officials had helped raise the life expectancy to 70 years, owing to better nutrition and housing, improved sanitation systems, vaccines, and other drugs. People respected the medical authorities and continued to get their shots.

Viruses do not grow like bacteria and so were harder to isolate in the lab. Once this problem was solved, and virus mutations in cells could be reproduced, viral vaccines were developed. Smallpox was the first due to trial and error, while polio was the second viral vaccine, but it used proven laboratory science. As Allen writes, "90 percent of Americans knew about the Salk trials in May 1954, more than could give Dwight D. Eisenhower's name."

Vaccinations played a big role in society. They helped to produce healthier and better-protected children, which made it easier for women to work outside of the home. Some critics of vaccinations believe shots like chicken pox and Hib were developed to prevent sick children from keeping either caregiver in a family at home with their children for weeks at a time. Allen shares the fact that vaccines, in part, "played a role in the legalization of abortion, the disabled rights movement, and the creation of the welfare state." Inoculations came just in time with the rise in daycare centers as the family unit became smaller and women entered the work force in huge numbers; expectations of equality, fair treatment, and access to public resources arose from the civil rights movement; and, more people were traveling around the world spreading germs among different countries.

With the decline in disease, people became complacent and would let vaccination schedules lapse late in the twentieth century. Some parents would object to getting shots but they comprised the minority. Most parents, however, understood the importance of protection and ensuring the bigger community would not sustain the spread of disease. For those that did not, there was the 1944 Supreme Court Case ruling, in Prince vs. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which stated that "parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free...to make martyrs of their children." Parents were compelled to have their children vaccinated or else the government would do it for them.

I recommend this book for everyone since all of us have received a number of vaccinations and continue to get them for a number of reasons, many of them personal. I continue to get a tetanus shot every decade while my Dad gets his flu shot every year. Allen's book explores the history of vaccination and the pros and cons of getting shots as the years have gone by. He looks at how government regulators made them safer, while causing fewer side effects in an ever-decreasing small percentage of the population.

Remember to also check out this work at your convenience: A World Perspective through 21st Century Eyes
3

Nov 29, 2009

This book was at different times: boring, informative, interesting and confusing. Certain chapters focused on science, others on public health & science policy, and others on the drawbacks of the ease of communication made by the internet.

Ultimately I didn't feel that Allen was presenting a completely objective perspective, but this may be fair considering the statistics he presents do reveal that vaccinations are ultimately effective and have increased the safety of the population - though This book was at different times: boring, informative, interesting and confusing. Certain chapters focused on science, others on public health & science policy, and others on the drawbacks of the ease of communication made by the internet.

Ultimately I didn't feel that Allen was presenting a completely objective perspective, but this may be fair considering the statistics he presents do reveal that vaccinations are ultimately effective and have increased the safety of the population - though there are still risks involved.

I watched Food Inc. a few weeks ago and was rather compelled as the mother of a son who died from e. coli poisoning lamented how the food industry never apologized or even acknowledged their fault. I can easily imagine how the diptheria vdo that was released, or if one were to be released by Jenny McCarthy or other parents of autistic children could be just as convincing. However, as Allen described, 13 parents with similar experiences barely qualify as a statistic out of the millions who get vaccinated every year. ...more
4

October 6, 2007

Rather good read
Books about biology that have journalists as authors tend to be less than desirable, often including instances of exaggeration for effect (such as in Hot Zone). Fortunately, this book appears to keep its subject material truthful and accurate, yet still manages to make it engaging enough for the reader.

Of course, those without a background in biology might find the book somewhat tedious, but the information provided can be of significant interest to those in the biological sciences, as well as those faced with the current social dilemma of vaccination vs anti-vaccination.
4

Feb 14, 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 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. ...more
4

February 8, 2014

A fair look at vaccine history for more than two centuries
I enjoyed reading this book for its historical perspective as well as for the few chapters of investigative journalism done during recent whooping cough outbreaks. I think Allen portrayed anti-vaccinating parents somewhat unfairly during the whooping cough epidemic, but perhaps his account was accurate based on what he experienced. More interesting was the history and the arguments for/against vaccines that have been brought up over the past 2+ centuries since variolation was in practice to protect against smallpox. A lot of the arguments from the early days have persisted, and he fairly points out, with skepticism, how some concerns just don't make much sense. One thing I was pleased with is that, even though this book seeems to come out in favor of vaccines overall, he didn't shy away from some of the serious issues with vaccines: such as SV40 in polio vaccine in the 60's which was found to cause tumors, and Hepatitis B being introduced during the course of vaccination because of the use of human blood serum and the routine re-use of needles for vaccinating in low-resource areas. A great book for anyone who wants a fair look at vaccine history. The only con is that it could get a bit dry during long discussions of the process of creating some vaccines and the politics involved.
1

Jul 21, 2011

Gah! I don't give a toss about how this or that researcher look like or how he's driven his wife mad to the point that she's comitted suicide!
Neither do I care much about the vaccines developers'politics if it has nothing to do with the outcome of the vaccine's safety/ efficacy.
I want to read about how the vaccines are developped, what were the pitfalls & side effets, how they were tested & whether or not I can trust the ones that are used now. Internationally. Not just in the USofA.
I Gah! I don't give a toss about how this or that researcher look like or how he's driven his wife mad to the point that she's comitted suicide!
Neither do I care much about the vaccines developers'politics if it has nothing to do with the outcome of the vaccine's safety/ efficacy.
I want to read about how the vaccines are developped, what were the pitfalls & side effets, how they were tested & whether or not I can trust the ones that are used now. Internationally. Not just in the USofA.
I still have about a quarter of the book to go. It has been such a hard work so far.
Waaay too much faff & unnecessary details about how this and that researcher look like, all the details that are too distracting and to be frank are just plain annoying! Grrr! ...more
1

June 1, 2010

BAD!
Boring and poorly written , Could get a better reading from Wikipedia. the stories are nagged forever and takes a great deal of time to get to the point. this book also fails to relate to the modern perception of Vaccination.
4

April 5, 2008

good overview of the whole discovery process plus the political ramifications
A very good history of the vaccine discovery, implementation and political ramifications within religious groups once problems stemmed from discovered wrongdoing. the chapter on autism is the best.
3

Mar 09, 2012

When I finished Vaccine, it seemed like I’d been reading it for months. In fact, I had been-this book took me forever and a day to finish and if it weren’t my intense fascination with the subject material, I don’t know if I would have made it through. That’s not necessarily a dig at the book, but many parts of it were definitely more exhaustive than I was looking for at the moment. It’s apparent that Arthur Allen spent a great amount of time and effort writing this book and although it’s more of When I finished Vaccine, it seemed like I’d been reading it for months. In fact, I had been-this book took me forever and a day to finish and if it weren’t my intense fascination with the subject material, I don’t know if I would have made it through. That’s not necessarily a dig at the book, but many parts of it were definitely more exhaustive than I was looking for at the moment. It’s apparent that Arthur Allen spent a great amount of time and effort writing this book and although it’s more of a popular narrative history, it’s also much more in-depth and occasionally dry than many other history books intended for a general audience.

I think what I appreciated most about this book was how clearly it illustrated that the arguments for and against vaccination haven’t changed that much since the debate began with cow pox vaccination. The logic against vaccines (polluting the blood, not as good as “natural immunity” etc.) are arguments I see over and over again at the anti-vaccine sites on facebook, mostly declared without much background knowledge of how these arguments were developed and used through time. I also appreciated Allen’s coverage of how many pro-vaccine advocates were more than willing to overlook possible negative reactions attributed to their vaccines and I feel that this part of the story needs to be told as well. If those who speak up for vaccines' safety and importance seek to counteract the anti-vaccine crowd's accusations, we must have an accurate understanding of where pro-vaccine scientists and policy-makers have messed up in the past.(That said, I feel completely confident that the current system of vaccine regulation in the United States may not be perfect but it protects citizens-I don’t believe there are hidden legions of “vaccine injured” children suffering in silence.)

I also liked Allen’s detailed accounting of the vaccine industry in America. One of the most common arguments I see is that vaccines are a Big Pharma cash cow but it’s obvious that pharmaceutical companies are by and large not profiting from developing and producing immunizations. I was often bored and overwhelmed by the hundreds of people Allen talks about as I’m not that interested in who developed which vaccine but on the flipside, I did appreciate his exhaustive research about individuals because I was very intrigued by what seemed like rather high numbers of women working to develop vaccines, particularly in the twentieth century. I wonder if vaccinology had more women in its ranks because vaccines are primarily developed for and given to children, who are often seen as part of women’s realm.

Vaccine isn’t a page turner but it is an interesting and worthwhile read for anyone looking to gain a broad understanding of immunization’s history, both how the vaccines themselves were developed as well as the minority reactions to the practice of immunization through time.
...more
2

May 18, 2008

I was told to read this book by a professor whose current research is focused around creating a vaccine against tropical helminth disease. I'm preparing to join her research team in the fall so she wanted me to read this book in order to get an introduction on the history and controversies surrounding vaccines. While this book is probably a brief summary of the history of vaccines, I found it a little tedious to get through. The author did a great job explaining certain controversies but I feel I was told to read this book by a professor whose current research is focused around creating a vaccine against tropical helminth disease. I'm preparing to join her research team in the fall so she wanted me to read this book in order to get an introduction on the history and controversies surrounding vaccines. While this book is probably a brief summary of the history of vaccines, I found it a little tedious to get through. The author did a great job explaining certain controversies but I feel as though it went a little too far in depth about vaccine legislation is some places. However, I did learn a lot and found the majority of the book to be interesting! ...more
3

Jun 25, 2008

An intriguing history of the controversy over vaccines--from smallpox to modern day. A fast read for non-fiction, but I would still recommend going straight the chapters on modern day controversies over the benefits vs. the risks of vaccination, the speculation about autism and vaccination, and the most recent attempts to mass vaccinate the US.


3

Feb 27, 2008

Great insight into the pros/cons of public health requirements on the community

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