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Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0061227950
ISBN-10: 0061227951
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Editorial Reviews

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*Starred Review* Maurice Hilleman's name isn't well known, and according to infectious disease expert Offit's riveting biography, that is both a shame and a blessing. It's a shame because the outspoken, brilliant, yet humble scientist from Montana invented vaccines that all but wiped out a number of infectious diseases. Thanks to his genius, such diseases as mumps, rubella, measles, and hepatitis A and B no longer claim millions of lives, mostly children's. He merits greater recognition. His obscurity is a blessing because it prevents more people from using his name in vain, for Hilleman's vaccines have recently become increasingly controversial and their efficacy clouded by questions about adverse side effects. Still, Offit pulls no punches in defending Hilleman against those who would crucify him for combining measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines into one shot and for the choice to add thimerosal to extend the shelf life of all vaccines. Despite the fact that Offit's bias on behalf of public health shows, the book is a powerful examination of the kind of single-minded determination it takes to tackle diseases that threaten the world's children. And to do so without bravado—no vaccine bears Hilleman's name, no awards his mantle—is to define what it is to be simply heroic. Chavez, Donna

Review

“This extraordinarily fine, well-researched, and beautifully written book deserves the widest possible readership. More physicians should write this well.” (Choice magazine)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian; 1 edition (July 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061227951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061227950
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Clark on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I love this book. I appreciate the realistic portrayal of Maurice Hilleman and his contemporaries, and how realistic the portrayal of the way vaccines were created in the 1950's, including the fact that the scientists tested out the vaccines on themselves and their families. I think I will always remember the pictures of Hilleman's daughters including the one who had been the host of the mumps virus that her father turned into a vaccine for mumps. It is officially called the Jeryl Lynn mumps strain even today. Hilleman encouraged his daughters to study science.

I also like Dr. Offit's style of writing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Offits chronology of Maurice Hillemans life is not only interesting because of the remarkable ascent and achievements of this virtually unknown genius, but also because Dr. Offit places the development of vaccines into the context of a world that did not have the resources & knowledge of scientists today.

Because vaccines have been such a success, the general population no longer knows what it is like to live through a genuine pandemic. We no longer see children living in iron lungs, walking the streets with shriveled limbs, etc. Yet, at one point, Polio was a very common disease. Similarly, we learn why so many schools for the deaf and blind have closed - because general vaccination drives have made the diseases that lead to these outcomes exceedingly rare. As a result, Dr. Offit points out that the current trend towards avoiding vaccinations due to unfounded fears will only result in one certainty: More dead, and crippled children.

That is not to say that vaccinations have been an unbridled success from the start. There were issues and outright charlatans then, just as there are now. However, modern science, with its much better reporting, aggregation, and statistical analysis of outcomes has done a fantastic job of minimizing adverse reactions to vaccines, determining cause-and-effect when there were reactions (caused by the vaccine or other unrelated factors). As Dr. Offit illustrates, the certainty with which some parents attribute MMR vaccines to autism issues are simply not supported by the facts; correlation is not causation.

All in all, a very powerful and insightful book written by a courageous man. After all, the autism-was-caused-by-a-vaccine bandwagon has not shown any signs yet of abating. All too understandable, I suppose, when the more likely cause of Autism will be found in the genetics of the parents. It's harder to take ones own blame in a issue than assign it to others.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Vaccines have, obviously, one main purpose…to end crippling diseases and those that are highly contagious or have nasty side effects. Most people are unaware of how vaccines were developed and how the work in the first place.

The author presents the story of Maurice Hilleman, a scientist and researcher who worked on some of the most effective and life altering vaccines of the twentieth century. As the author so rightly points out, until vaccines came along, life expectancy was a lot lower. Vaccines helped to end diseases that were crippling the population and killing many people every year. But, the struggle to manufacture vaccines was not easy. There was a lot of trial and error and more than a few misses in the race to find working vaccines.

Hilleman was not the man that actually created the vaccines….he was the man who discovered how to make them efficiently and how to package them for wide distribution. His work cannot be understated in the fight against diseases such as polio, mumps, measles, hepatitis (pick a strain) and numerous other diseases.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but in particular to those who are sure that vaccines are the cause of autism. It pretty plainly debunks the most widely held argument against vaccination…that thimerosol is present in every vaccine. It was added when multi use vials were the norm, but now that single use vials are common, it is no longer needed.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book after reading several other books on the debate of whether or not people should be vaccinated and about viruses. This book offerred a different view into the vaccine world and was extremely interesting. It describes Maurice Hilleman as a truly great man and makes the reader realize how often we don't reward people that deserve much more praise. Dr. Offit's style of writing is easy and interesting to follow and he describes the development of a vaccine in simple terms, making the reader further appreciate how far technology has come along and how many people today are healthy because of the vaccines that were developed during the last century. Everyone who is even remotely interested in learning about vaccines and the history of their development should read this book. Additionally, the book not only contains a summary of how vaccines were created, but specific stories that led to their development. For example, Dr. Offit describes an instance of Maurice Hilleman swabbing his daughter's throat knowing she was sick with the mumps and then later developing the vaccine. This fatherly approach to treatment and then further preventing the illness in millions of kids is truly inspirational and praise-worthy.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book in one go. Often it is unbelievable and unrealistic that Maurice trespassed on our earth with such passion, kindness, humility and strength to free us from some of the most infectious diseases. He climbed hills and from the top spotted the next hill that he would climb. Glory be to this man and science which for me are synonymous. And my heartfelt admiration for Paul who wrote this book with such care and love.
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