Against the Grain

A Social History of Vaccination

It’s stating the obvious to observe that vaccination in the United States is a highly charged subject.  But the heat of the controversies, as historian Elena Conis argues, obscures how vaccination — which has saved many lives when used against deadly illnesses — became so widespread, including for milder diseases. Conis discusses the cultural, political, and social forces that have shaped mass vaccination.


Elena Conis, Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization University of Chicago Press, 2015

4 responses to “A Social History of Vaccination

  1. This guest adds nothing to the debate. She is essentially a kindler, gentler version of the same mainstream mantra, claiming that vaccines are the greatest thing ever. Her gist seems to focus, not on the actual (and very worthy) debate about whether or not vaccines are safe or effective, but on the fact that most people get their kids vaccinated anyway, that our vaccination rates are so high that there’s nothing to worry about. she does, of course, take the time to repeat the lies told in order to discredit Dr. Andrew Wakefield, even while saying he had no real impact on the vaccines and autism debate, because it had begun way before his Lancet paper. It’s a distraction away from the real issue that our children and we are paying a very heavy price for our relentless parade of vaccination and unwarranted worship of them as some kind of savior, which they clearly are not.

  2. People who are against vaccinating for childhood diseases are simply ignorant of the fact that measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough, killed even more children when introduced to the Americas than Small Pox did. Get educated folks, read some actual history of these diseases and what they do to populations with no immunity and stop putting other parents children at risk. Grow up in other words.

    1. Rowe,
      You are excellent at repeating the unfounded garbage expostulated by Big Pharma. All of this is in the context of “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it”! There are actually sound arguments against each of the statements you have made.
      I am very disappointed that Sasha failed to ask the hardball questions, for example, “Why is it that there have been payouts totaling THREE BILLION DOLLARS to people who have been harmed by vaccines?”
      If you are truly interested in learning about the sordid history of vaccines, I highly recommend “Dissolving Illusions” by MD Suzanne Humphries.

  3. We must presume that the author had nothing to say, since the interviewer didn’t ask, about the Revolving Door corruption at CDC and the related corporate influence to restrict research and to “blacklist” whistleblowers.

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