Anti-Vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement

MIT. Sept. 2020. 296p. ISBN 9780262539326. pap. $19.95. MED
Berman (basic sciences, New York Inst. of Technology Coll. of Osteopathic Medicine-Arkansas) addresses the current anti-vaccination movement and its followers (“anti-vaxxers”) through a historic lens. The book does not attack the movement, but rather provides readers with historical and cultural context to understanding the beliefs of those within the anti-vaccination movement. He begins with a history of vaccines themselves, and how diseases such as smallpox and the plague affected societies as well as scientific education. This history also includes profiles of leading figures in variolation, such as English physician Edward Jenner, who contributed to the development of the smallpox vaccine. The author explains resistance to Jenner’s smallpox vaccine, which was considered radical at the time, and how initial resistance to vaccines was influenced by social class, the concept of individual liberties and rights, and changing views about health and medicine.
VERDICT Recommended for those countering the anti-vaccination movement, as well as those with an interest in cultural and historical antecedents of the movement.
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