Cloth $30.00 ISBN: 9781780238371 Published October 2017 For sale in North and South America only


How Vaccines became Controversial

Stuart Blume


Stuart Blume

Distributed for Reaktion Books

288 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth $30.00 ISBN: 9781780238371 Published October 2017 For sale in North and South America only

One of the most important tools in the public health arsenal, vaccines are to thank for the global eradication of smallpox, and for allowing us to defeat the dire threat of infectious disease for more than one hundred years. Vaccine development is where scientists turn when faced with the frightening spread of new diseases like Zika, SARS, and Ebola. So if vaccines have proven to be such an effective tool, why are growing numbers of people questioning the wisdom of vaccinating children? Why have public-sector vaccine producers almost vanished? And can we trust the multinational corporations that increasingly dominate vaccine development and production?

In this highly original and controversial new book, Stuart Blume argues that processes of globalization and unmet healthcare needs are eroding faith in the institutions producing and providing vaccines. He brings together short, readable histories of immunization practices over the past century, 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 engineered vaccines. Focusing on today’s “vaccine hesitancy,” the book exposes the inadequacies of public health persuasion, and discusses what will be needed to restore parents’ confidence. This is a timely history, one that not only sheds new light on the origins of our global vaccine crisis, but also points a way forward.

Review Quotes
Sanjoy Bhattacharya, director, Centre for Global Health Histories | University of York and Head, WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories
“This is an important, comprehensive, and pathbreaking book. Eschewing simplistic, unipolar notions of the planning and delivery of international health, it places the history and contemporary provision of immunization on a truly global scale. This is a study that looks at all facets of a complex subject, where the troubled birth and expansion of the use of vaccines is examined thoroughly and fairly. This is scholarship at its richest, which reminds us all about the dangers of technological determinism in all matters of public health. A must read for academic, government, and international health agency audiences, especially those committed to the equitable introduction of vaccines around the world on the basis of careful and transparent consultations with target societies.”
William Muraskin, Queens College, City University of New York
“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.”
Brian Martin, University of Wollongong, Australia
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.”
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