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Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases Hardcover – June 12, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0061227950 ISBN-10: 0061227951 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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 (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul A. Offit, M.D., is Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. An expert in the field of vaccines, he is a recipient of many awards, including the J. Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics from the University of Maryland Medical School; the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Disease Society of America; and a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health. His books include the recent Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. Visit his website at www.paul-offit.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Constantin on November 23, 2010
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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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve G on June 13, 2014
Format: Paperback
Maurice Hilleman is the great unsung hero of vaccine development. Although he was responsible for the development of a number of vaccines, he remains relatively unknown. But author Paul Offit has created a masterful accounting of his life and achievements. Offit frequently diverts from discussing Hilleman’s life to provide background information to fill in the blanks. These detours are just as interesting as the main story and this book can be considered as a history of microbiology. No science background is required for this book, but if you do have a science background, the book is still fascinating. Given the current manufactured controversy about vaccines I recommend this book for everyone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anna on September 18, 2012
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nicole D on November 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
In his book Vaccinated, Dr. Paul Offit contends strongly for the importance of vaccination by detailing the long and arduous journey of the development of several life-saving vaccines. In particular, Offit emphasizes the oft unrecognized work by Dr. Maurice Hilleman, a scientist whose work in vaccinology is unprecedented. While most readers, myself included, may not have known about Hilleman's incredible work prior to reading the book, Offit's persuasive writing style combined with Hilleman's numerous achievements in vaccine development really highlight the history of vaccinology.

The book discusses Hilleman's unrelenting efforts to develop vaccines that could save lives -- even some that were ethically dubious. Offit challenges the reader to consider a world without these efficacious vaccines as opposed to a world wherein researchers like Hilleman did not take key risks to develop vaccines. These risks include testing the vaccines in their own children or in children with mental disabilities, both of which would not be feasible in today's world given present regulations.

The material in this book is presented in a highly chronological and cohesive manner, making it an easy read for readers from all science backgrounds. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in learning about the history of virology or anyone interested in the challenges presented by public health dilemmas. As Offit comments, scientific discoveries related to technology often receive more press than public health interventions that save the most lives. However, Offit makes the case that in order for the world to benefit from the discoveries made by Hilleman and his colleagues, vaccine use must be continued.
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