About the Book
Vaccine: the Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver relates the history of the development of vaccines–killed, weakened or fragmentary forms of a microbe that are injected or inhaled or ingested in order to produce immunity to the germ’s naturally occurring form. But Vaccine is more than a medical history, because the changes vaccination has wrought in society are profound. The story of vaccination also tells a lot about the human experience of modern times. It’s the saga of epidemics and how people faced them, the fear of God that disease once inspired, and the fear of the government that grows out of medical errors. It’s about what it’s like to live at a time when disease could suddenly sweep into your home and steal your child, and about the changing face of human faith at a time when infectious disease has, in great measure, been conquered, or at least tamed. It’s the story of the very human scientists–Pasteur, Salk, Sabin, Hilleman, and others—who dedicated their lives to assuring that families would never again be at the mercy of germs. It’s also about the struggle between personal autonomy and national goals, about allowing individuals to live their beliefs while still protecting the public health.