Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America

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Since 1990, the number of mandated vaccines has increased dramatically. Today, a fully vaccinated child will have received nearly three dozen vaccinations between birth and age six. Along with the increase in number has come a growing wave of concern among parents about the unintended side effects of vaccines. In Vaccine, Mark A. Largent explains the history of the debate and identifies issues that parents, pediatricians, politicians, and public health officials must address.

Nearly 40% of American parents report that they delay or refuse a recommended vaccine for their children. Despite assurances from every mainstream scientific and medical institution, parents continue to be haunted by the question of whether vaccines cause autism. In response, health officials herald vaccines as both safe and vital to the public's health and put programs and regulations in place to encourage parents to follow the recommended vaccine schedule.

For Largent, the vaccine-autism debate obscures a constellation of concerns held by many parents, including anxiety about the number of vaccines required (including some for diseases that children are unlikely ever to encounter), unhappiness about the rigorous schedule of vaccines during well-baby visits, and fear of potential side effects, some of them serious and even life-threatening. This book disentangles competing claims, opens the controversy for critical reflection, and provides recommendations for moving forward.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review

Any health collection catering to parents, health professional or the general public needs this fine survey of the history and contentions of the vaccine debate.

Journal of Child Neurology - Roger A. Brumback

This is an important book in the context of the current vaccine wars. Every pediatrician and pediatric specialist should not only read this book but also take to heart its message.

Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics - Sarah S. Nyp

This book provides a fantastic overview of both sides of the vaccine debate... This knowledge and understanding could improve [physician's] success in alleviating concerns for parents with anxiety toward vaccinatino of their children.

Life Sciences

Largent’s fluid prose makes this 222-page book an easy read. It will interest vaccine proponents and detractors alike, along with parents and policymakers who have questions about the long list of mandated vaccines, and health professionals who must explain benefits and risks to anxious parents.

Isis - Robert D. Johnston

In an era of polarized debate over vaccines—as over so much else— Vaccine can potentially lead us toward a promised land of dialogue and substantially greater mutual understanding.

Nature Medicine - Andrea Rusnock

An important overview of scientific research on the safety and side effects of vaccination. Largent also incorporates his own decisions about his daughter's vaccinations as an example of how one parent has navigated the competing claims about vaccines... Parents need to educate themselves and make well-informed decisions about their children's vaccinations.

Canadian Bulletin of Medical History - Sarah Glassford

Largent's reasoned, evidence based exploration is a worthy and important contribution to a public debate too often built upon flimsy claims and perpetuated by hyperbole.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421406077
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 996,860
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark A. Largent is an associate professor of history and director of the Science, Technology, Environment, and Public Policy Specialization at Michigan State University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Risk and Reward 15

2 Sources of Doubt 37

3 Thimerosal and Autism 68

4 MMR and Autism 94

5 Science and the Celebrity 136

6 Getting to the Source of Anxiety 157

Conclusion 172

Acknowledgments 177

Notes 179

Index 215

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