Vaccination has greatly diminished death, illness and suffering in the world. But no other medical technology has been so dogged with controversy. The book chronicles the development of the key lifesaving vaccines since the 18th century. It tells the stories of great scientists and their discoveries, of the protests and pain along the stumbling path of progress. This is the first book to tell the whole story of vaccination for a general audience. In light of controversies about flu vaccine and autism, it will be of particular interest to parents, pediatricians, public health workers and anyone fascinated by medical history. Read More>>

Also Available: Table of Contents and Index

Arthur Allen is a Washington DC-based journalist who has written on vaccine issues in The New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, The New Republic, Atlantic Monthly, Salon and Slate.

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The Vaccination Zeitgeist Reaches Hollywood

Am I the only one who noticed that the thimerosal theory has hit the Hollywood big time? In a most unexpected place. Tonight I saw the very crude, hilarious new movie Knocked Up, directed by Judd Apatow. It’s a very simple story—gentle, unemployed stoner (Seth Rogen) knocks up up-and-coming Hollywood entertainment journalist (Katherine Heigl) during a drunken one night stand; she decides to have the baby; they figure out how to get along while enduring a lot of shouting matches and hijinks, leading to a sweet conclusion.

Two of the terrific supporting actors are the journalist’s sister (Leslie Mann) and brother-in-law (Paul Rudd). The sister is fussy and materialistic, while Rudd plays a goof who looks back at his slacker days with fond remembrance; their marriage troubles are a humorously foreboding backdrop for the Rogen/Heigl struggle to come to terms with their possible future together. I laughed through the entire movie, but I got a special kick out of the scene in which Mann is looking at an Internet map of sex offenders in their neighborhood while reaming out Rudd for failing to be as upset about their proximity as she is. Rogen looks on, abashed. While enduring his wife’s abuse, Rudd impassively explains to Rogen that while his wife won’t vaccinate the kids, worries about mercury and sex offenders, he really doesn’t get involved. Or words to that effect; my memory for movie dialogue is ephemeral.

I’m not sure how or even whether to deconstruct this bit of dialogue; not sure whether the director thinks that people who worry about mercury and vaccines are overweaning idiots, or whether he simply let the conversation drop as an artifact of the concerns of well-to-do Hollywood parents. But it was interesting to see how far the mercury-n-vaccines trope had penetrated this world.

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Comments

Luka

Rosie O'Donnell also made anti-vaccine comments on "The View" recently. All were more fear-mongering, uneducated, unscientific opinions about the safety of gardasil and other vaccines. She even mentioned the MMR causing autism.
At least she is gone from that show, whose audience is probably women like young moms and grandmothers.

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