by Eula Biss
I'd like to start by saying I do not have kids. I think the topic of immunity and vaccination is an incredibly personal one and if you are a mother who is even thinking deeply about these things you are already doing your best you can to care for your kids.
Biss' book is a nonfiction look into the history of vaccination and a discussion of some of the current issues. She presents the information without berating people. I love the details she gives about milkmaids, cowpox, the development of the polio vaccination and so much more. She brings the topic to life by giving it a background and talking about real examples throughout history. She also makes a fascinating connection between disease and Bram Stoker's Dracula. He stands as he example of the plague and sickness we fear, sucking our life away
She brings the AIDS crisis into the book to show an example of how the views of disease have become driven by fear and sometimes even a belief that if we do things "right" we can protect ourselves and our children. She talks about her own experiences and the decisions she's made with her child. She presents current CDC or WHO statistics about disease and outbreaks around the world.
One of the most interesting aspects to me was the explanation of herd immunity and the important part it plays in protecting people with compromised immune systems. She pulls no punches when talking about scare tactics that are sometimes used based on no fax or incorrect or false studies that have already been disproved. It really made me think about where we get our information and the tendency that all people have to believe things without fact checking them.
BOTTOM LINE: I wanted to learn more about this issue from a well-researched source and so this book worked well for me. Everyone will approach this issue with their own belief system, so that will obviously affect your view of the material, but I thought she did an excellent job. I especially appreciated how she drew a clear line between what was packed and what was her opinion.
“Wealthier countries have the luxury of entertaining fears the rest of the world cannot afford.”