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Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All

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There's a silent, dangerous war going on out there. On one side are parents, bombarded with stories about the dangers of vaccines, now wary of immunizing their sons and daughters. On the other side are doctors, scared to send kids out of their offices vulnerable to illnesses like whooping cough and measles--the diseases of their grandparents.How did anyone come to view vac There's a silent, dangerous war going on out there. On one side are parents, bombarded with stories about the dangers of vaccines, now wary of immunizing their sons and daughters. On the other side are doctors, scared to send kids out of their offices vulnerable to illnesses like whooping cough and measles--the diseases of their grandparents.How did anyone come to view vaccines with horror? The answer is rooted in one of the most powerful citizen activist movements in our nation's history. In Deadly Choices, infectious disease expert Paul Offit relates the shocking story of anti-vaccine America--its origins, leaders, influences, and impact. Offering strategies to keep us from returning to an era when children routinely died from infections, Deadly Choices is a vigorous and definitive rebuttal of the powerful anti-vaccine movement.


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There's a silent, dangerous war going on out there. On one side are parents, bombarded with stories about the dangers of vaccines, now wary of immunizing their sons and daughters. On the other side are doctors, scared to send kids out of their offices vulnerable to illnesses like whooping cough and measles--the diseases of their grandparents.How did anyone come to view vac There's a silent, dangerous war going on out there. On one side are parents, bombarded with stories about the dangers of vaccines, now wary of immunizing their sons and daughters. On the other side are doctors, scared to send kids out of their offices vulnerable to illnesses like whooping cough and measles--the diseases of their grandparents.How did anyone come to view vaccines with horror? The answer is rooted in one of the most powerful citizen activist movements in our nation's history. In Deadly Choices, infectious disease expert Paul Offit relates the shocking story of anti-vaccine America--its origins, leaders, influences, and impact. Offering strategies to keep us from returning to an era when children routinely died from infections, Deadly Choices is a vigorous and definitive rebuttal of the powerful anti-vaccine movement.

30 review for Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question. But, is it really one that parents should be having after they have a child? Dr. Paul A. Offit leaps into the middle of the debate in this book, seeking to explore all avenues and convince the reader that the anti-vaccine movement is predicated on falsehoods and half-truths. The modern push against vaccination appears to have emerged from a 1982 documentary that sought to show a connection between the pertussis vaccine and severe brain dama To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question. But, is it really one that parents should be having after they have a child? Dr. Paul A. Offit leaps into the middle of the debate in this book, seeking to explore all avenues and convince the reader that the anti-vaccine movement is predicated on falsehoods and half-truths. The modern push against vaccination appears to have emerged from a 1982 documentary that sought to show a connection between the pertussis vaccine and severe brain damage, from the onset of seizures through to significant impairment that cannot be reversed. Those advocating that there was a direct correlation between vaccination and these injuries cite numerous families whose children suffered significantly soon after having their scheduled shots. Offit offers what seems to be a thorough explanation of the movement’s views before showing the studies that have been completed to diffuse these accusations, even if they are not convincing to those who feel they know best. Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is a horrible condition whose onset sounds gruesome when described and when it invades the body of young people, they are trapped to suffer and sometimes die. Offit tries his best to explain the theory of vaccination and how vaccines are created, in hopes of helping a large portion of the population. However, protection of the greater whole requires the immunization of a large portion of the population, something that seems to elude those who fear side effects. Offit also explores the origins of anti-vaccine movements, which began in Britain in the early 19th century and continues today. The focus appears to vary, from the ‘satanic’ nature of introducing things from outside the body (aluminium appears to be the biggest culprit), to the obvious triggering of autism, to a personal choice embedded in constitutional rights. The early anti-vaccination movement stemmed from government requirements rather than the medical issues, but things have morphed with the onset of mass communication of apparent side effects and death rates. Offit looks at more than just pertussis, taking time to explore smallpox, polio, and even measles, all of which has its own vaccine haters. While the anti-vaccine movement was based on personal choices or alternative medical information in the past, the 21st century mutation has turned militant, using celebrities to speak out and cut others down who even suggest vaccines are useful. This poisonous attack through the airwaves tends also to be meant to drum up fear rather than education, as Offit shows how many falsehoods appear while such advocates refuse to allow rebuttal of their points. The latter part of the book explores the interesting discussion of the graphing of immunisation rates and the explanation behind it. It is sobering and chilling at the same time, as the reader is pulled into the middle of the great cyclical debate, all while children continue to get sick or die while others play Russian Roulette with large portions of the population. A great piece that will surely educate many in an attempt to open eyes on this heated debate and an ever-evolving social movement. The idea of getting Neo’s vaccinations were never in question when he was young, nor will it be in the years to come. However, I have long heard about the ‘anti-vaxx’ movement that seeks to keep the body pure and natural, free from anti-freeze and aluminium poisoning and autism-free. This book not only strengthens my belief that vaccines are a good thing for children, but offers me a refreshing look, with some substantiation, why those who are against them feel the way they do. Offit could have used this piece as his own soapbox to deride those who are against him. However, he laid out their arguments throughout and offered them a great deal of ink as he tried to explain their foibles. Offit takes the discussion deeper than the modern version, delving into the history, science, religious arguments, political sentiments, and even legal ramifications of vaccination and parses through some of the rhetoric and falsehoods that seem to be spreading. Admittedly, all medical treatments have side effect and yes, there will be deaths, but ignorance or outright gambling with one’s child seems not to make sense in this modern day. Even those who follow the herd mentality that Offit discusses—whereby once a certain percentage of the population is inoculated, even those who are not stay safe because of so much protection around them—seem destined to pass the buck and leave it to others to do the work. Interestingly enough, the fewer who vaccinate, the less likely herds will protect those who seek to hide among them. Offit helps solidify my belief that many are being duped by a smaller faction who are too lazy to be responsible, which includes some inside the medical profession. That being said, if there are those who stand behind anti-vaccination and have something that I could read to try swaying me over to the other side, with thorough exploration of the topic, not simple blather about ‘Jennie got sick when she had her shot, so vaccines are crap’, I would be happy to read and review it here. Until then, I’ll rest easier knowing that I have done all I can to protect Neo from the ravages of diseases out there from which there are means of protecting him. Kudos, Dr. Offit, for helping me better understand both sides of this argument. I can only hope that others will read this book and get the bigger picture for themselves. This book fulfils Topic #1: Lead of the Equinox #11 Reading Challenge. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a well-written polemic in favor of the safety of vaccines and the life-saving benefits they provide, and against those who oppose vaccines and accuse them of all sorts of ills that aren't supported by the scientific evidence. As the chief of infectious diseases at Philadelphia Children's Hospital and an inventor of one of the rotavirus vaccines, Paul Offit not only knows what he is talking about, but has been on the front lines of the fight against those who blame vaccines for autism, ADH This is a well-written polemic in favor of the safety of vaccines and the life-saving benefits they provide, and against those who oppose vaccines and accuse them of all sorts of ills that aren't supported by the scientific evidence. As the chief of infectious diseases at Philadelphia Children's Hospital and an inventor of one of the rotavirus vaccines, Paul Offit not only knows what he is talking about, but has been on the front lines of the fight against those who blame vaccines for autism, ADHD, retardation, seizures, diabetes and all sorts of other maladies. He also has a gift that many specialists lack of being able to tell good human-interest stories and anecdotes to buttress his case. I call this a polemic because Offit makes no pretense of providing a dispassionate analysis. He is angry at the continuing claims of anti-vaccinationists and at the re-emergence of preventable diseases in places where greater percentages of parents don't vaccinate their children. His life has been threatened in the past, and so he has paid the price for his outspokenness. Offit does a good job of telling the story of the anti-vaccine movement from its earliest days opposing smallpox vaccinations in England (opponents claimed sometimes that the cowpox inoculation would turn their children into cattle), up to the modern version of the movement, starting with the anti-pertussis vaccine activism of the 1970s to today's scare stories about the MMR vaccine and the mercury decontaminant thimerosal. A few times, he goes off the rails a bit to take personal shots at people whose lack of evidence ought to be enough to condemn them. In discussing the anti-vaccine statements of actress Jenny McCarthy, for instance, he talks about her not wanting to inject "toxins" into children and then about her pleasure in getting botox injections for herself. Showing up a hypocrite? Sure. Necessary to make the point? Probably not. More telling is his observation that comedian Bill Maher produced a documentary against religion in which he said people shouldn't believe anything science couldn't prove, and then turned around and opposed vaccines without scientific evidence for his position. Two other small flaws: Although I realize the numbers shift, it would have been good to provide some sense of the numbers of preventable diseases that have sprung up. By using anecdotal numbers, he may have exaggerated the risk; and it would have been better if he had talked briefly about his own role developing a rotavirus vaccine and being paid for it, because it is the first argument opponents use against him. On the other hand, he does an excellent job telling the stories of people who have stood up for vaccine safety, or whose children have been harmed by exposure to unvaccinated children. So, polemic, yes. But well-argued and well-told, also yes.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    It's amazing what people do to convince themselves that they're right when all the evidence at hand points to the opposite. Vaccines do NOT cause autism. They don't cause diabetes, epilepsy, or any other disease. What they do is PREVENT the spread of deadly infections (both bacterial and viral). Most of the anti-vac crowd seem to suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%...) The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisio It's amazing what people do to convince themselves that they're right when all the evidence at hand points to the opposite. Vaccines do NOT cause autism. They don't cause diabetes, epilepsy, or any other disease. What they do is PREVENT the spread of deadly infections (both bacterial and viral). Most of the anti-vac crowd seem to suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%...) The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes.[1] The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence. Competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."[2]

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    *Disclaimer* My husband is an Immunologist so I was already convinced before starting the book. I think EVERY parent should read this. Seth has gotten asked on numerous occasions about vaccines and how he feels about their risks. He honestly answers them that he hasn't studied much with vaccines but from everything he has read, vaccines do great things without much scientific evidence of the contrary. Now he has a book to point them to. Offit explains the history of the anti-vaccine movement goin *Disclaimer* My husband is an Immunologist so I was already convinced before starting the book. I think EVERY parent should read this. Seth has gotten asked on numerous occasions about vaccines and how he feels about their risks. He honestly answers them that he hasn't studied much with vaccines but from everything he has read, vaccines do great things without much scientific evidence of the contrary. Now he has a book to point them to. Offit explains the history of the anti-vaccine movement going back to England when many people thought the small pox vaccine would turn their kids into cattle. He didn't shy away from discussing polio vaccines that did actually cause polio and the protocol that has been implemented since that time. It was difficult reading about parents who chose not to immunize their kids and then their kids getting sick and even dying because of it. The big fad now is to have "spaced out" immunizations because parents are concerned about little babies receiving six vaccines at one time. I myself was weary about watching my child go through that. Offit went into the science about how our bodies have no struggle with the amount of vaccines now given and could actually handle THOUSANDS of vaccines at once.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maria Ryan

    Pharma’s Paid Mouthpiece Mouths Off I put a couple of Offit books on my TBR list, knowing how difficult it would be to actually read them. However, I found that in order to truly understand this issue and reaffirm my belief in medical freedom for all, no matter how prevalent the “theories” of herd immunity, community immunity, and blind adherence to public "health" may be. I don’t see evidence that Offit’s views are science-based simply because they are not. He would have us all scared to death o Pharma’s Paid Mouthpiece Mouths Off I put a couple of Offit books on my TBR list, knowing how difficult it would be to actually read them. However, I found that in order to truly understand this issue and reaffirm my belief in medical freedom for all, no matter how prevalent the “theories” of herd immunity, community immunity, and blind adherence to public "health" may be. I don’t see evidence that Offit’s views are science-based simply because they are not. He would have us all scared to death of any disease for which there is a vaccine. Paul Offit is a pediatrician affiliated with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who claims to specialize in infectious disease. I am unsure what that expertise entails. He also refers to himself as an expert in vaccines. There is evidence that he has misrepresented his various titles in the past. He is one of the co-developers and patent holders on the RotaTeq vaccine, the vaccine that is supposed to protect against Rotavirus, a very mild disease here in the United States. His vaccine was also pulled from the schedule due to a dangerous condition called intussusception. He made an untold sum when that patent was sold. Offit was also part of the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) which advises the CDC on what vaccines to add to the childhood schedule. He served during the time that his RotaTeq vaccine was up for vote to be added to the childhood immunization schedule. Offit should have recused himself from serving on this committee however he did not. Instead he was granted an exemption and voted to have his own vaccine added to the schedule. Offit is a big proponent of vaccines and one of the vaccine industry’s biggest voice. So what is this book about? In a nutshell, it is an admonishment of all who have ever questioned the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, specifically those on the childhood vaccination schedule. Offit flatly denies a correlation between an injury such as a traumatic brain injury and any vaccine. There is a temporal association, meaning that these two events, vaccinination and subsequent injury, happened to have occurred at the same time but bear no relation. Parental stories hold no weight whatsoever. Parents are not experts. Offit is. This book is addressed to all parents as well as anyone who has ever questioned, or expressed concern about a vaccine or whether they are necessary. All of us are told that the science has been done and broaches no further question. All scientific studies showing a possible correlation are deemed junk science. Vaccine safety has been secured by the “real” scientists. They are also immune to conflicts of interest, and data fraud and manipulation. No matter how bloated the childhood schedule becomes, there is no question as to the continued "safety" of more shots and combining more vaccines. In other words, whatever Offit says goes, without question. According to Offit, you do not have the right to choose which vaccines your child will receive or when. You must adhere to the CDC schedule and never ever ever question it. It isn’t just your child at risk for vaccine preventable diseases but every other child as well. Herd immunity, community immunity, public health, and responsibility are all concepts bandied about as Offit slaps down those who refuse to comply or who believe differently. Pasteur’s germ theory is Offit’s driving force and these microbes are just lying in wait to jump out, attack and wipe innocent children right off this planet. No mention is ever made about supporting the immune system. All alternative therapies and supplements are scientifically unproven and seen as quackery. Vaccines are the ONLY way to infer protection. Your health is dependent on a filled syringe. It’s science folks, plain and simple. Nothing more to talk about. His vaccine history glosses over significant details so that vaccines are put on a pedestal and shown only in the most flattering light. The real history tells a much darker story about vaccines. He beleieves that the vaccine adverse events reporting system in its early days has paid out large sums of money to families that should not have been eligible because the vaccines did not cause the injuries they were said to cause, even though the injuries are listed on the vaccine manufactureres OWN list of side effects. He uses this book as a major axe to grind with several people including Barbara Leo Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) whom he states could have had a much loftier career as a vaccine advocate if she had only focused on the vaccines that did have actual problems such as the oral polio vaccine (OPV), Pediatrician Bob Sears who had the audacity to offer his patients an alternative vaccine schedule. Offit really takes him to task for not being the expert that he hismself obviously is. Jenny McCarthy whom he calls the parental poster child for the anti-vaccine movement, Jim Carrey, Jenny’s boyfriend at the time Offit wrote this book, J. B. Handley whom he portrays as an angry hit man, and most surprisingly Bernadette Healy, former head of the NIH who stated that the jury is still out on whether or not vaccines cause autism. Some other Offit gems include: Autism is caused by a structural abnormality already existing in the brain. In other words, it’s hereditary. It's never been proven. Could a vaccine trigger a predisposition that might never have been triggered otherwise? Offit fails to mention this possibility at all. He never once offers an alternative cause for the regression, fevers, seizures, SIDS that occur in the wake of vaccines. He only states that it’s never the vaccine and that by insisting on more studies looking at the possible link between injury and vaccines, including what is diagnosed as autism, we are taking money away from finding the real cause of these ailments. He states that if Vioxx were made as safely as all vaccines, then perhaps we could have prevented those 50,000 deaths when Vioxx hit the market. This infers that Merck had no prior knowledge that their heart attack in a pill caused the death. Yes, they knew ahead of time that Vioxx caused heart attacks. They didn't care. Merck makes vaccines as well. He mentions throughout the book how impeccably safe vaccines are but the fact remains that zero safety studies have ever been done. Zero! Nor has the current schedule now or at any time been tested for safety. He only tells the stories about kids dying from vaccine preventable deaths, Hib meningitis is a favorite of his along with Rotavirus. Offit wants so badly to lauded a hero for creating this useless vaccine. God-complex? Read his books and decide for yourself. Not a single vaccine-injury story is given credence in this book. He simply does not believe those stories exist. That’s right parents, your observations do not exist plus since you’re not “experts”. What the hell do you know? Those asking for safer vaccines, are still considered by him to be anti-vaxxers because since vaccines cause no side effects, including the ones listed on the manufacturers package inserts, safer vaccines cannot be made. An unvaccinated child would have far better protection in a fully vaccinated community opposed to a fully vaccinated child in a non-vaccinated community. Perhaps the best illustration of this is his story about the mother whose fifteen month old girl died of Hib meningitis despite being fully vaccinated against it. Guess who was blamed for the child’s death? It was the unvaccinated in her community. Vaccine failure was never considered and the mother actually spoke to Congress, stressing the importance of vaccines. The book ends with this tragic story and another jab at Jenny McCarthy having a voice while this girl had none. The only takeaway from this book is a lesson in the imperativeness to trust your intuition, always question the “experts”, continuously seek out knowledge in all its forms, and use critical thinking skills to make as fully formed an opinion as possible. BRB Rating: Skip It

  6. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    I read this book for ammo in the vaccinate/don't vaccinate argument. I got plenty of it, thought this book is one-sided for sure. Paul Offit, as a prominent figure on the "vaccinate" side, has lots of enemies in the world (jenny mccarthy, barbara loe fisher) and so a lot of this book it just spent defaming the loudest voices in the anti-vaccination movement, which gets old. I wish parts of it had been a little more scientific, like when he made claims about certain statistics or outbreaks he did I read this book for ammo in the vaccinate/don't vaccinate argument. I got plenty of it, thought this book is one-sided for sure. Paul Offit, as a prominent figure on the "vaccinate" side, has lots of enemies in the world (jenny mccarthy, barbara loe fisher) and so a lot of this book it just spent defaming the loudest voices in the anti-vaccination movement, which gets old. I wish parts of it had been a little more scientific, like when he made claims about certain statistics or outbreaks he didn't necessarily present all the facts from every side, but he sure had a thorough bibliography so I suppose I could go get it all myself. Also, I can't really hold it against Offit that he sounds so angry and exasperated because (from my experience) the idiots on the anti-vaccination side don't do their research and it is very frustrating to have people constantly throwing out emotional claims like, "MMR made my baby retarded and have seizures" with zero scientific evidence, and in fact multiple studies to the contrary. I always assumed I would vaccinate my own children, but this makes me want to keep them from socializing or interacting with unvaccinated kids because it is so selfish and irresponsible to think that choosing not to vaccinate your kids is a personal (not community) choice, and indicates either extreme narcissism or stupidity or both on the part of the parents. I'm not advocating blind trust in medicine, but for well-tested vaccines the track record is excellent and the benefits to society are clear.

  7. 5 out of 5

    mar

    This isn't exactly a book I can write a real review for. It was certainly informing and engaging. But I was also already pro-vaccine, so this book didn't need to convince me of anything. However, it is undeniable that this book was thoroughly researched and sourced, and that Offit knows what he is talking about. Obviously, this is not my typical read. I read it for a research paper I am writing for school, and I am definitely satisfied with it, and I know have gained a lot of reliable informat This isn't exactly a book I can write a real review for. It was certainly informing and engaging. But I was also already pro-vaccine, so this book didn't need to convince me of anything. However, it is undeniable that this book was thoroughly researched and sourced, and that Offit knows what he is talking about. Obviously, this is not my typical read. I read it for a research paper I am writing for school, and I am definitely satisfied with it, and I know have gained a lot of reliable information and testimonial from this. It's a four star rating though because even though I had no problems with it, I couldn't say I love this book, if that makes sense.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Todd Martin

    Vaccines have proven to be one of the most successful public health measures ever undertaken. They have virtually eliminated terrible diseases such as polio and small pox and have prevented untold illness, suffering and death from such scourges as measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus, hepatitis, and Meningococcal Hib. One might go so far as to call them miraculous … except there’s no supernatural agent involved, it's all thanks to science. Yet here we are in 2015 with our smart phones and cloud ser Vaccines have proven to be one of the most successful public health measures ever undertaken. They have virtually eliminated terrible diseases such as polio and small pox and have prevented untold illness, suffering and death from such scourges as measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus, hepatitis, and Meningococcal Hib. One might go so far as to call them miraculous … except there’s no supernatural agent involved, it's all thanks to science. Yet here we are in 2015 with our smart phones and cloud servers and wifi and flat screen tvs with video on demand and imbeciles who seek to exempt their children from vaccinations do to their primitive, unfounded, irrational fears and religious superstition. This might be funny, if it weren’t costing people their health and their lives. Many people seem to think that the typical anti-vaxxer is a left leaning, granola eating, crystal waving, hippy wanna-be who doesn’t want their kids exposed to unnatural non-organic chemicals. But nothing could be further from the truth. Vaccine denialism is a bi-partisan issue. "There is evidence that vaccinations have become more of a political issue in recent years. Pew Research Center polls show that in 2009, 71 percent of both Republicans and Democrats favored requiring the vaccination of children. Five years later, Democratic support had grown to 76 percent, but Republican support had fallen to 65 percent." http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/us/... Then you have the irresponsible, anti-science proclamations of ignorant presidential hopefuls (note – they are all republicans and they will never be president). Gov. Chris Christie said that parents “need to have some measure of choice” about vaccinating their children against measles. Senator Rand Paul thinks vaccines are “a personal decision for individuals”. Brilliant. The US public should lose its herd immunity and we should doom crippled children to live out their lives in iron lungs ... because freedom. In Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All Paul Offit (Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) outlines the history of vaccines as well as the anti-vaccination movement. What he shows are that the claims of the anti-vaxxers are specious and that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks involved. All of which is no surprise to anyone half paying attention to the issue, but Offit does a great job outlining the evidence in support of his claims and in debunking the claims of the denialists. All of this boils down to the question of whether an individual’s rights trump the rights of society as a whole. They don’t. There are certain standards of behavior associated with maintaining a civilized nation. You aren’t allowed to drive drunkenly at high speeds through a crowded shopping mall. You aren’t allowed scream racial obscenities while indiscriminately waiving a loaded gun in someone’s face. You also should not be allowed to threaten the health and well-being of a population by sending your unvaccinated child to public school. This should be a minimum expectation of citizenship and good manners.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Preaching to the choir here in this book, because I'm pro-vaccine (and very anti-anti-vaxxers!), so I didn't learn a ton of new things. But there are excellent examples of how some "doctors" support false science and hurt children (and adults), usually for their own ends, and how some anti-vaxxers refuse to use logic and reason because their emotion really gets in the way. It's just sad. Also a lot of great explanations about herd immunity and the effect non-immunized children have on this. Some Preaching to the choir here in this book, because I'm pro-vaccine (and very anti-anti-vaxxers!), so I didn't learn a ton of new things. But there are excellent examples of how some "doctors" support false science and hurt children (and adults), usually for their own ends, and how some anti-vaxxers refuse to use logic and reason because their emotion really gets in the way. It's just sad. Also a lot of great explanations about herd immunity and the effect non-immunized children have on this. Some children CAN'T get vaccinated for various reasons (like they have leukemia), and the parents who choose not to immunize their children based on belief in pseudoscience or pure lies not only can hurt their own children, but others as well. It's just a very scary thought, and people who question vaccines would do well to read this.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    This book is a comprehensive look at the history of the battles between vaccine advocates and anti-vaccine proponents dating all the way back to the 1850's(Edward Jenner's smallpox vaccine). Offit, often antagonized for profiting from his patent on a Rotavirus vaccine, takes on his opponents with patience, controlled passion, and science. It's not mentioned in the book, but after reviewing a lot of the websites out there about people trying to undercut Dr. Offit's work by insinuating that money This book is a comprehensive look at the history of the battles between vaccine advocates and anti-vaccine proponents dating all the way back to the 1850's(Edward Jenner's smallpox vaccine). Offit, often antagonized for profiting from his patent on a Rotavirus vaccine, takes on his opponents with patience, controlled passion, and science. It's not mentioned in the book, but after reviewing a lot of the websites out there about people trying to undercut Dr. Offit's work by insinuating that money was his motivation in all of his work, it is really a pathetic route to go. Dr. Offit promotes science and efficacy. A good example that money has very little to do with his motivations can be his promotion of the CDC recommended scheduling of vaccines and not an alternative schedule which spaces out vaccines. His denouncing of Dr. Bob Sears and Dr. Hehmet Oz's promotion of an alternative schedule really has no monetary motivation. His defense is based on science and his knowledge of the science of vaccines is probably unmatched by any other doctor.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    It continues to perplex and terrify me that there are people who live among us who don't vaccinate their children due to lies, misinformation and woeful, horrible ignorance. To these kinds of people I say, a) Stay the hell away from me, my family, my loved ones and anyone I hold dear, which includes all of humanity. b) Read this book, cover to cover, multiple times, until the information sets in. Unfortunately, many people won't, because they're idiots. Jenny McCarthy, by the way, should rot in It continues to perplex and terrify me that there are people who live among us who don't vaccinate their children due to lies, misinformation and woeful, horrible ignorance. To these kinds of people I say, a) Stay the hell away from me, my family, my loved ones and anyone I hold dear, which includes all of humanity. b) Read this book, cover to cover, multiple times, until the information sets in. Unfortunately, many people won't, because they're idiots. Jenny McCarthy, by the way, should rot in hell, along with her ilk (people who bare their hoohas for a living, presumably to dispense medical advice from there). But what am I to do with Bill Maher? I agree with 95% of what he says, but that missing 5% includes anti-vaccination ideas, and that's just too big of a whopper. The book is very good, and so important, that I'll buy it so I can readily dispense it to those seeking information. But if you haven't vaccinated your children, let me bring the book to you, as I'm sorry, I just can't let you into my house. I have kids I care about. I doubt you have the same regard for your own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book was VERY well-done. I just wish we could have it read out loud to prospective parents persuaded by the credentials of Playboy bunnies who frighten them away from vaccines. This book clearly lays out where the scaremongers are wrong, WHY they are wrong, and why it matters to all of us. This has been an issue becoming increasingly worrying to me recently, since every year, as more and more parents refuse to vaccinate, the yearly pertussis outbreaks in my area get worse and worse. And my This book was VERY well-done. I just wish we could have it read out loud to prospective parents persuaded by the credentials of Playboy bunnies who frighten them away from vaccines. This book clearly lays out where the scaremongers are wrong, WHY they are wrong, and why it matters to all of us. This has been an issue becoming increasingly worrying to me recently, since every year, as more and more parents refuse to vaccinate, the yearly pertussis outbreaks in my area get worse and worse. And my asthmatic son may some day pay the price for someone else's parenting choice. Scary. The science is clear, the issue is black and white, and it's high time someone like Dr. Offut had the courage to say so.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    If you opt to read this book, and then accept what he says as gold, please take the time to research Mt Offit himself. His conflict of interest on this subject virtually defeats his entire argument. Some Vaccines are absolutely medical miracles, but there are issues, and demanding a one size fits all schedule for all children is irresponsible and dangerous. especially without considering possible allergies and family history. Offit makes billions promoting Vaccines by the vaccine industry, there If you opt to read this book, and then accept what he says as gold, please take the time to research Mt Offit himself. His conflict of interest on this subject virtually defeats his entire argument. Some Vaccines are absolutely medical miracles, but there are issues, and demanding a one size fits all schedule for all children is irresponsible and dangerous. especially without considering possible allergies and family history. Offit makes billions promoting Vaccines by the vaccine industry, there is another side to this debate that isn't against Vaccines, but against a mandated one size fits all approach. dismissing those concerns and lumping them with Jenny McCarthy only works to alienate parents. there are other books on this subject far more balanced and less hostile.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Please, vaccinate your children. If you're thinking about not doing it, please read this book and realize it's much, much riskier to not vaccinate.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    A very informative read, which makes a lot of sense. I have heard every argument against vaccines, it's common ground when you have little ones. Everyone wants to tell you why they don't do it, or why they vaccinate on a different schedule. Trying to stay up on it, I have read the Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears and every other major source that comes along. I always wondered though about all of the children who died of these infectious diseases, surely death is worse than autism, especially when you th A very informative read, which makes a lot of sense. I have heard every argument against vaccines, it's common ground when you have little ones. Everyone wants to tell you why they don't do it, or why they vaccinate on a different schedule. Trying to stay up on it, I have read the Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears and every other major source that comes along. I always wondered though about all of the children who died of these infectious diseases, surely death is worse than autism, especially when you think about whole families in the past dying of flu or other epidemics. It seemed like at the turn of the 20th century every family lost a child to something or other. Dr. Offit presents that data. I feel like all parents should have to read this book to really make an informed decision. And I am happy to have a source to point people towards when they start spouting facts and figures on how bad vaccines are.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jill Sabin

    Clear, respectful, strong science, easy to understand.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Dnf. Though an interesting topic, this was not (I repeat: NOT) my book. I love reading about media influencing medical and biological research but this book was just all over the place. No clear timeline, no clear display of causal correlations, or whatsoever.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    Upon finishing: my stars are subjective! It *was* a well-written, well-cited book with good flow. So good, in fact, that I wonder an immunologist didn't need a ghost writer to create such a good production value. I learned a lot. I developed many new questions. I did lots of online research. I'll be reviewing in more detail on my blog. Links later. ******** Read this interview with Dr Bob Sears, where he addresses Offit's writings on Sears' vaccine ideas: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontli... *** Upon finishing: my stars are subjective! It *was* a well-written, well-cited book with good flow. So good, in fact, that I wonder an immunologist didn't need a ghost writer to create such a good production value. I learned a lot. I developed many new questions. I did lots of online research. I'll be reviewing in more detail on my blog. Links later. ******** Read this interview with Dr Bob Sears, where he addresses Offit's writings on Sears' vaccine ideas: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontli... ******** As the sister of a person who was changed by vaccines, who had physical symptoms of neurological distress which caused hospitalization, and became autistic, I believe that vaccines are not "for everyone." Herd theory aside. I will take a look at "the other side" with an open mind, however, to see what it has to say. *** I only read one chapter before having to turn it back in. Waiting to get it again. In the chapter I read he was refuting the general ideas behind Dr Sears' delayed vaccine schedule. Offit's reasoning went something like this: The amount of surfaces and people we interact with on a daily basis exposes us to hundreds if not thousands of pathogens every day, and we don't all succumb to all of it - in fact our immune systems "handle" it all so well that we succumb to very little of what we're exposed to. He then asserts that our children could theoretically "handle" thousands of vaccines at once, and would not be overly burdened or in danger. That niggled me, of course, but I had to give it some thought and tease out the logic. --> he's comparing laboratory-derived, genetically-modified, chemically-stabilized, partial-cell pathogens to the kind we encounter pushing the grocery cart. (If you don't subject yourself to the toxic bleach wipes provided these days. I use them sometimes and others not... still on the fence about their benefit.) They're not AT ALL the same. Does he feed his kids American cheese and hamburger helper and call it "nourishing?" Does he have a nanny raise his kids and tuck them in at night and call it "parenting?" Does he rely on the user comments beneath the news story and consider himself "informed?" Not at all the same. I must admit that his aim is noble. He spent time as a child in a hospital ward recovering from an injury and watched kids suffer in iron lungs from polio. His intentions are good. I'm not convinced his science (which is the mainstream belief) is entirely sound. More later when I read more of the book. *********** Reading again. From ch 1, imagine that. It has occurred to me that I may get out of this book what I expect to, which is to say, "he believes the evidence overwhelmingly supports vaccine safety, until proven otherwise," and I'm afraid my view is that they are not proven safe for *every* child, far from it. So far, in ch 1, he has quoted huge swaths of a documentary put out in 1982, and described in detail several families/children who claim vaccine injury. He's setting the stage to discredit them. Claiming "coincidence." My mind is struggling to remain open to this information. How can they be so sure that things like autism and epilepsy and brain damage happen in such numbers without vaccine, and how can the symptoms coincidentally become prominent just following inoculation, and not be connected? Reading on... ********** p. 44. In a study that solicited children whose parents asserted that the DTP vaccine caused seizures and mental retardation, it was found that 11 of the 14 children had a genetic defect that interfered with sodium use in brain cells. In 9 of those 11, the parents did not share the defective gene. The assumption made by the researcher and easily accepted by the author is that the genetic defect occurred "de novo," or in utero. Is that the *only* way genetic change can occur? (google, here I come.) http://wiki.medpedia.com/Gene_Mutations http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/mutat... Gene mutation can be acquired during life Also p. 44. I understand the author's irritation that the media did not cover this discovery that a genetic mutation caused this particular type of seizures and mental retardation. In my mind, this does not *clear* vaccines, but offers more information to consider. read later: http://www.freeyurko.bizland.com/vacg...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tena

    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 wa 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gator

    Really well written, well researched book. Provides great pro vaccine facts about the dangers of choosing not to vaccinate. And how getting our children vaccinated makes the whole of society a safer and happier place for us all, while protecting those not fortunate enough because of medical reasons to be able to receive them. The doc suggests we work in a more collective society rather then being selfish and mis informed by anti vaxxers propaganda. While he insists that most of the information Really well written, well researched book. Provides great pro vaccine facts about the dangers of choosing not to vaccinate. And how getting our children vaccinated makes the whole of society a safer and happier place for us all, while protecting those not fortunate enough because of medical reasons to be able to receive them. The doc suggests we work in a more collective society rather then being selfish and mis informed by anti vaxxers propaganda. While he insists that most of the information put out by anti vaccine groups is hog wash, he does have a target audience to convince on the efficacy of vaccinating. Dr. Offit has a target audience that he caters to and he definitely omits information. The anti vaccine books which I have read as well have a target audience and also omit information. It is very important to be well rounded on this topic and know all sides of the story, try not to be narrow minded. Read all you can get your hands on, and make your own decision that you feel comfortable with, but don't be bullied into anything. Think for yourself don't rely on others to inform you with their opinions because there are facts omitted by both sides of this war. Overall the book has helped me to see how pro vaccine groups perceive there decisions to vaccinate with such faithful conviction. Having said that I've read all sides of the vaccine debate and understand without judgement the fear on both sides. There needs to be a global reassuring discussion on vaccination for both sides and we need to call a truce. If we could just be kind and take the time to see the others sides arguments instead of thinking everyone's out to get us we could make a lot of progress. It's time to move forward and share all factual information positive and negative and improve humanity.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. An excellent look at the culture around vaccines in the U.S. using historical examples to show how the ideas of the anti-vaccine movement are not new, how litigation and personal injury lawyers play a role, how the media gives so much more print and face time to anti-vaccine activists (who not only disregard science but sometimes misrepresent it altogether) than to scientists or vaccine experts, and how distrust in the government, pharmaceutical companies and science perpetuates the movement. I An excellent look at the culture around vaccines in the U.S. using historical examples to show how the ideas of the anti-vaccine movement are not new, how litigation and personal injury lawyers play a role, how the media gives so much more print and face time to anti-vaccine activists (who not only disregard science but sometimes misrepresent it altogether) than to scientists or vaccine experts, and how distrust in the government, pharmaceutical companies and science perpetuates the movement. I think it's easier to understand the importance of vaccines when you've seen a child die from dehydration due to rotavirus infection, or from typhoid, or be paralyzed from polio--these types of diseases have largely disappeared from the U.S. because of vaccines. So, parents who choose not to vaccinate rely on "herd immunity" to keep their unvaccinated children healthy. But what about kids who are too young to get a vaccine and are exposed? Or kids with leukemia or other conditions that make vaccines ineffective or dangerous to them? They are at risk because of the choices of other parents. Dr. Offit proposes to three solutions to the crisis: One, wait until these terrible infectious diseases make even more of a comeback than they are now and convince parents to vaccinate out of desperation; two, do away with religious and philosophical objections to vaccine mandates; three, change the culture around vaccines. The third solution is the only one he sees as viable. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in public health or those interested in seeing why "we are all part of a large immunological cooperative."

  22. 4 out of 5

    David

    Truthfully, I didn't read every bit of this, skimmed probably 40 percent of it, but only because (1) I'm persuaded of the author's point, and (2) It's all moot since I'm not a parent nor planning to be. I read this just because I know people who are very much on the anti-vaccine movement. The book's title is almost misleading. This book is only marginally interested in explaining how the anti-vaccine movement threatens us all, which is mostly does in the 8 page introduction, and hardly anywhere Truthfully, I didn't read every bit of this, skimmed probably 40 percent of it, but only because (1) I'm persuaded of the author's point, and (2) It's all moot since I'm not a parent nor planning to be. I read this just because I know people who are very much on the anti-vaccine movement. The book's title is almost misleading. This book is only marginally interested in explaining how the anti-vaccine movement threatens us all, which is mostly does in the 8 page introduction, and hardly anywhere else for significant page time. The vast majority of this book explains the history of anti-vaccine sentiments and spends a snooze-worthy amount of time recapping news footage and legal hearings. As a history book, it's pretty good. As an overview of how both sides see things, it's good. Unfortunately, I don't see it winning converts. The biggest problem the author faces is that M.D. at the end of his name. It's just too easy to say, "He's a doctor, so OF COURSE we know which side he's on." Jenny McCarthy is shown in a way that, fair or not, makes her look like a very flaky choice for the most prominent spokesperson of the anti-vaccine movement. If you can wade through the reenactments of the news, there's some good science here and there.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

    passionate brief in favor of the utility of vaccines for kids, countering the view that they cause autism etc. Very convincing, though I didn't need much convincing on these points, and we did get all recommended vaccinations for our kids, and the main study initiating the autism scare has been recently exposed as not just wrong but fraudulent, so it would not have taken much to convince me. What I hadn't known well before, but is covered thoroughly in the book, is the whole history of anti-vacci passionate brief in favor of the utility of vaccines for kids, countering the view that they cause autism etc. Very convincing, though I didn't need much convincing on these points, and we did get all recommended vaccinations for our kids, and the main study initiating the autism scare has been recently exposed as not just wrong but fraudulent, so it would not have taken much to convince me. What I hadn't known well before, but is covered thoroughly in the book, is the whole history of anti-vaccine activism, which apparently dates back to the start of vaccines. For example, the term "conscientious objector" derives from late 19th century English parents who opted out of getting smallpox vaccine for their kids. Goes on to review the case of "typhoid Mary", the religious exemptions introduced to appease Christian Scientists, etc. Good discussion of the concept of "herd immunity" too -- how our individual decisions about vaccinating kids affect the likelihood of everyone else's getting sick as well. Individual freedom vs. society's needs is an eternal theme and I know the subject of umpteen billion novels, but this is really a fascinating medium in which it plays outl.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    Offit's Deadly Choices is a fantastic read about why the anti-vaccination movement is not only without merit scientifically, but truly dangerous to our national and global society. Offit, an immunologist, and thus a reliable source himself (though he certainly has a plethora of research and sources to document all of his information) does not pretend to be objective- his tone is an angry one, and rightfully so. He specifically calls out the celebrity proponents of the anti-vaccine movement for s Offit's Deadly Choices is a fantastic read about why the anti-vaccination movement is not only without merit scientifically, but truly dangerous to our national and global society. Offit, an immunologist, and thus a reliable source himself (though he certainly has a plethora of research and sources to document all of his information) does not pretend to be objective- his tone is an angry one, and rightfully so. He specifically calls out the celebrity proponents of the anti-vaccine movement for scorn, pointing out their hypocrisies in their views regarding science and medicine in their own personal lives versus what they espouse publicly, and calling them out for using their influence in speaking about inactions which end up with the consequences of needlessly killing babies, children, and adults each year. The frustrating things with books like these, though (and this is probably the best one I've read on the topic), is that very few people who actually SHOULD read them, ever do. Four stars. Important read for parents, especially parents who are nervous about immunizations for their children.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Amazing, simply amazing. For the record, I was on this side of the argument before I read the book but I still learned so much. After the vivid descriptions of some of these diseases I don't understand why any parent wouldn't vaccinate against them. When I was growing up none of those diseases were on my radar because friends and I were vaccinated, so I didn't really know what the diseases entailed. The description of whooping cough with stay with me forever. I have no respect for parents who do Amazing, simply amazing. For the record, I was on this side of the argument before I read the book but I still learned so much. After the vivid descriptions of some of these diseases I don't understand why any parent wouldn't vaccinate against them. When I was growing up none of those diseases were on my radar because friends and I were vaccinated, so I didn't really know what the diseases entailed. The description of whooping cough with stay with me forever. I have no respect for parents who do not vaccinate. That's a strong statement, I know, but that's how this book makes me feel. A must read for anyone and everyone. It's time for American to ditch Jenny McCarthy's ignorance an get their facts straight once and for all.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I was agonizing over the decision to vaccinate my children during the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic when I first read about Dr. Paul Offit. The article assuaged my fears and changed my outlook on vaccination. Some people (including Bill Maher)claim that the H1N1 epidemic was overblown. Dr. Offit pointed out in the book that the CDC estimates 61 million people were infected with the swine flu that year, 274,000 were hospitalized, and 12,470 people died (1,280 of whom were children). http://www.cdc.gov/ I was agonizing over the decision to vaccinate my children during the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic when I first read about Dr. Paul Offit. The article assuaged my fears and changed my outlook on vaccination. Some people (including Bill Maher)claim that the H1N1 epidemic was overblown. Dr. Offit pointed out in the book that the CDC estimates 61 million people were infected with the swine flu that year, 274,000 were hospitalized, and 12,470 people died (1,280 of whom were children). http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/estimates_... Perhaps some people are comfortable with those statistics, but I am not. I feel extremely fortunate to live in an era (and a country) where vaccines are readily available. Keep up the good fight, Dr. Offit. Some of us are listening.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Innes

    Paul Offit is amazing. He's a brilliant doctor, yet can simplify the science for normal people to understand. I still love The Panic Virus (also an anti anti-vaccine book that I've already reviewed,) but I think some people might like this even better because Offit presents the information in a gentler way. Mnookin (Panic Virus) is hard-hitting and can be a tad condescending, where Offit removes a lot of the emotion from the issue and presents the information from the perspective of science and Paul Offit is amazing. He's a brilliant doctor, yet can simplify the science for normal people to understand. I still love The Panic Virus (also an anti anti-vaccine book that I've already reviewed,) but I think some people might like this even better because Offit presents the information in a gentler way. Mnookin (Panic Virus) is hard-hitting and can be a tad condescending, where Offit removes a lot of the emotion from the issue and presents the information from the perspective of science and what is best for society. I think EVERYONE should read this book and realize how serious and dangerous the anti-vaccine movement really is.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Vartabedian

    For those looking to understand the origins of anti-vaccine sentiment, read Deadly Choices. What struck me is the deep history behind the anti-vaccine movement. From Jenner’s smallpox fix to modern day MMR struggles, Offit draws fascinating corollaries surrounding immunization that seem to defy the generations. Vaccine resistance was not born of Andrew Wakefield but broader concerns rooted in religion, individual liberty, fear and propaganda. Deadly Choices puts the anti-vaccine movement in a his For those looking to understand the origins of anti-vaccine sentiment, read Deadly Choices. What struck me is the deep history behind the anti-vaccine movement. From Jenner’s smallpox fix to modern day MMR struggles, Offit draws fascinating corollaries surrounding immunization that seem to defy the generations. Vaccine resistance was not born of Andrew Wakefield but broader concerns rooted in religion, individual liberty, fear and propaganda. Deadly Choices puts the anti-vaccine movement in a historic sequence that reads like good suspense. I couldn’t put it down.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    As a registered nurse I have always advocated for vaccines but I was curious about the "anti Vaccine side". This is an excellent book to explain vaccines and the issues surrounding them from a respected source. I can't believe that parents put the health of there precious babies in jeopardy based on the recommendations of a play boy bunny. It's ridiculous that Jenny McCarthy is opposed to vaccines because she feels they have toxins in them ( they don't ) but she is fine with Botox for her face. As a registered nurse I have always advocated for vaccines but I was curious about the "anti Vaccine side". This is an excellent book to explain vaccines and the issues surrounding them from a respected source. I can't believe that parents put the health of there precious babies in jeopardy based on the recommendations of a play boy bunny. It's ridiculous that Jenny McCarthy is opposed to vaccines because she feels they have toxins in them ( they don't ) but she is fine with Botox for her face. Botulism toxin is a very potent toxin!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Molyneaux

    Nicely written. This helped me get up to date on the history of vaccination and the anti-vaccine movement. This account was also balanced and covered the rare cases in which harm did occur due to poorly manufactured vaccines. It is disturbing, however, to see how emotion has trumped reason for the majority of anti-vaccine proponents. How did celebrities with no training in medicine or science become experts in this area?

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