Vaccines have helped mankind to tackle the dire threat of infectious disease for more than a hundred years. They have become key tools of public health and scientists are charged with developing them as quickly as possible to combat the emergence of new diseases such as Zika, SARS, and Ebola. But why are growing numbers of parents all over the world now questioning the wisdom of having their children vaccinated? Why have public-sector vaccine producers been sold off? And can we trust the multinational corporations that increasingly dominate vaccine development and production?
In this controversial new book, Stuart Blume argues that the processes of globalisation and people's unsatisfied healthcare needs are eroding faith in the institutions producing and providing vaccines. He tells the history of immunization practices, from the work of early pioneers such as Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch to the establishment of the World Health Organization and the introduction of genetic engineering.
Immunization exposes the limits of public health authorities while suggesting how they can restore our confidence. Public health experts and all those considering vaccinations should read this timely history.
About the Author
Stuart Blume is Emeritus Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Educated at Oxford University, he has previously worked at the University of Sussex, the London School of Economics and in Whitehall.
"From vaccine hesitancy to virulent anti-vaccine views, parents are questioning what used to be considered a triumph of public health--vaccines. As so often happens with debates on controversial issues, emotion often trumps information. . . . [Immunization] offer[s] refreshingly fact-based alternatives to the vitriol dominating the current conversation on vaccines. . . . From Cold War politics to neoliberal economics, Blume puts policy and advancement into a broader context in which public health sometimes takes a back seat to other, less noble concerns. His central argument, articulated in the final chapter, is that vaccine hesitancy is rooted in mistrust of the institutions that promote them--especially governments and pharmaceutical companies. . . . Readers who wish to be informed of the current debate and issues surrounding it will appreciate the clear, fact-based approach."--Library Journal
"Blume's Immunization is a clearly written, brilliant, and highly sophisticated look at the roots of the growing phenomenon of 'vaccine hesitancy.' He rejects the dominant, and superficial interpretation by public health officials of what is going on, and shows the reader what insights occur when you really stop and listen to what people are saying rather than assuming you already know what motivates them and pigeon-holing their supposed views into various unflattering categories."--William Muraskin, Queens College, City University of New York
"Immunization provides great insight into the vaccination issue precisely because it avoids the easy generalizations made by partisans on either side. Blume more usefully points to the complexities and contradictions in the history and social dynamics of vaccination. He presents vaccination as a technology, and as just one of several approaches to promoting health, and thus to be judged in a wider context than a narrow calculation of benefits and risks. Immunization is essential reading for anyone who wants to get beyond the usual polarized positions in the vaccination debate."--Brian Martin, University of Wollongong, Australia