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A Review On: Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver

Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver

Rated # 5 in Health Books
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Pros: Fascinating account of the arguments made for and against vaccines throughout history, thorough review of problems/triumphs of the past

Cons: Very detailed history of the political fights over vaccination-- sometimes a bit dry

I enjoyed reading this book for it's 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.


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