Author: Eula Biss
First Published: 2014
Page Count: 163
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
One mother’s journey through the world of vaccinations that proves to be just as interesting and relevant to anyone interested in the topic outside of parenthood.
* Author’s Point of View *Easy to Understand *Interesting Analysis
“If vaccination can be conscripted into acts of war, it can still be instrumental in works of love.” The question of whether or not a parent should vaccinate their child is a hot one in society at the moment. One new parent, Eula Biss, decided to document her journey of discovering what the truth behind all the controversy was with vaccines to better decide how to raise her new son. Even adults without children are forgoing shots like the flu vaccine for themselves, meaning that the analysis of both sides of the argument in this book are relevant for all readers around the world.
The first thing that differentiates this book from any other that might take on the vaccination issue is that it is written by not only a mother but a new mother who is chronicling her findings about vaxing versus not vaxing as she goes through the process. It gives her work so much more power because she is the embodiment of this entire chaotic situation the world finds itself in when it comes to whether vaccinations are harmful or not. She’s just an everyday mom trying to make the best decisions for her son. Her analysis is fascinating but not so technical that you feel like you’re reading a med student’s textbook. There is a fine line she walks between her presentation of data and personal observations that keeps the book relatable and interesting.
While it is a positive thing that she only spends just the right amount of time analyzing each argument for or against vaccination, the overall book felt too short. I came away from the book ultimately agreeing with her decision that vaccination seems like the best option but not that the argument was fully laid to rest. I’m not sure if there were other topics that could have been explored that anti-vaxers cite to bolster their argument but I was already pro-vaccination before this book. It makes me wonder if there is enough data in here to really convert an anti-vaxer which I would imagine is the goal because of her whole focus on how powerful herd vaccination is. However, she does acknowledge that medicine is not the end all be all answer when it comes to building up our immunity because of the fear that we might soon face diseases that have become resistant to our antibiotics, among other things. This might be why the book doesn’t feel that it concludes with a decisive answer on the vaccination question.
If I had a child on the way or had a child at the age when vaccination becomes important, I would definitely want to read this book. If not for the data it presents, at least for the insight it provides from another mother in my shoes. However, even without kids or without taking a side on vaccination, I found the book a quick and entertaining read. It is still just as valuable knowledge about medicine and disease even if you aren’t a parent or never plan to be one because your health effects every other person on this earth even if we imagine that our choices only affect our own bodies.