Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review: "Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All" by Paul Offit

Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us AllDeadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All by Paul A. Offit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating and horrifying read. It addressed the history of vaccines, as well as the anti-vaccine movement, which started very shortly after the first vaccine (for smallpox, via cowpox) was developed. The amount of misinformation in the world that is used by anti-vaccine activists is truly saddening. Having taken a fair amount of immunology coursework in my educational path to my two degrees, I felt that I was well prepared to read this book; however, the book is written in such a way that even someone with no scientific background whatsoever can benefit from the information therein. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you have children, you should read it. Maybe it won't change the mind of anti-vaccine parents, but it will at least clarify some things for most people. I was also pleased to note that the last 50 or so pages of text are all references. The only thing I wasn't so keen on was the depiction of chiropractors; I feel that the author should have drawn a better distinction between chiropractors who believe that there are no germs and that everything wrong with your body can be fixed by an adjustment and those who believe that having a properly aligned back can help you live a pain free, and therefore healthier life. In the grand scheme of things, though, that doesn't really matter.

Overall, this book is amazing. I had no idea the extent of the anti-vaccine movement (although at least 2 of my sisters and possibly my older brother as well have not vaccinated their children, and my youngest brother is not vaccinated either) and the misconceptions spread by its members until I read this book. I only knew that people claimed that thimerosal caused autism (very, very well refuted by multiple studies). I didn't know that going back to my own childhood there were claims that vaccines caused mental and physical disabilities.

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