[UCP Books]: Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization

"This is a fascinating account of how routine childhood immunization came to be both a public health success story and a source of bitter controversy. Conis untangles these seemingly contradictory trends and provides a probing analysis of the ways that American culture and politics have influenced how we think about vaccines. Everyone with a stake in our immunization system—which is to say, all of us—should care about the story Conis has to tell."
James Colgrove, author of State of Immunity

Vaccine Nation
America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization

Elena Conis

US Publication Date: November 17, 2014 UK Publication Date: November 24, 2014
Cloth $27.50/£19.50 ISBN-13: 978-0-226-92376-5


Unlike other recent works that seek to poeticize our emotional relationship to disease and prevention—the myths and fears that underlay our distrust or acceptance—Vaccine Nation offers the overlooked historical context for why vaccines have become such a significant and divisive aspect of public health policy.

Vaccine Nation opens in the 1960s, when American government scientists—triumphant following successes combating polio and smallpox—considered how the country might deploy new vaccines against what they called the “milder” diseases, including measles, mumps, and rubella (And it’s not a coincidence that this policy push occurred at the same time as many mothers were joining the work force fulltime). In the years that followed, Elena Conis reveals, vaccines fundamentally changed how medical professionals, policy administrators, and ordinary Americans came to perceive the diseases they were designed to prevent. She brings this history up to the present with an insightful look at the past decade’s controversy over the implementation of the Gardasil vaccine for HPV, which sparked extensive debate because of its focus on adolescent girls and young women. Through this and other examples, Conis demonstrates how the acceptance of vaccines and vaccination policies has been as contingent on political and social concerns as on scientific findings. Vaccine Nation goes beyond the simple story of the triumph of science over disease and provides a new and perceptive account of the role of politics and social forces in medicine as a whole.

Elena Conis is assistant professor of history at Emory University. She is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at (773) 702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu for more information.


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