From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In the second book this season (after journalist Seth Mnookin's The Panic Virus) to attack vaccine paranoia, Offit—who drew antivaccinist fire for Autism's False Prophets—presents a smart, hard-hitting exposé of vaccine pseudoscience. Offit brings outstanding credentials to the subject: he's a vaccinologist at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and an expert in infectious diseases, and he tackles claims that childhood inoculations cause brain damage, autism, diabetes, and cancer, finding a farrago of misinformation, faulty research, and sly deceptions fed to distraught parents by media hype, ax-grinding activists, and personal-injury lawyers. He embellishes his account with a sprightly history of paranoid medical populism—19th-century critics of the cowpox-derived smallpox vaccine insisted it could turn people into cows—and a blistering attack on celebrity antivaccine ideologues Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, and Bill Maher and the medical writers who pander to parental anxieties. Offit dwells less than Mnookin on the sociology of the controversy and more on the science. The result is a thorough dismantling of antivaccine notions and a sober warning about the resurgence of deadly childhood infections stemming from declining vaccination rates. Worried parents, especially, will find this a lucid, compelling riposte to antivaccine fear-mongering. Photos. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Infectious disease expert Offit, long an outspoken and prolific (Vaccinated, 2007) champion of universal immunization via vaccines, ratchets up the urgency of his crusade by taking on the loudest and highest-profile spokespersons for the anti-vaccine movement. He spares no one, not Jim Carrey, not Jenny McCarthy, television’s Dr. Oz, or even Dr. Bob Sears, as he tosses salvo after salvo of scientific evidence across the bow of their anti-vaccine ships. Their anti-vaccine arguments, he says, consist of nothing more than anecdotal drama combined with conspiracy theories that pander to parents’ most emotional fears. What they should be doing, he says, is encouraging parents to trust the huge bank of scientific data proving the safety of vaccines and their efficacy in eliminating many deadly infectious diseases. Armed with his own arsenal of anecdotal horror stories that focus on worst case histories of the unvaccinated, mostly children, in addition to pages of scientific study citations supporting his premise, Offit pulls no punches. His tone is edgier than usual this time, his arguments more virulent. It is clear that he wants his message and the facts, not rumors or infectious diseases, to go viral. --Donna Chavez