On Immunity: A Review

On Immunity by Eula Biss
My rating: 4.5 of 5 star

This is a series of short essay reflections inspired by a mother trying to do what is best for her baby boy during the H1N1 health crisis. The book opens on a conversation she has with other mothers of whether or not to vaccinate their children against this particular virus. She decides to do more research which effectively becomes this book.

There is so much involved in the vaccination decision. Prejudices, fears of toxins, and fears of how this decision will affect the child’s future were a few mentioned. The author goes into the history of vaccines as well as the medical profession as a whole, explaining why there is a trust gap between doctors and mothers at times.

She speaks at length about how capitalism, paternalism, and class differences have played a part into the mistrust of doctors, and how maternalism is an essential part of the discussion (as it has been dismissed in the past under the label of hysterical mothers who are getting in the way).

Ultimately, she makes a case for why vaccines are important for the community at large, that the benefits outweigh the risks, especially considering just how many toxins and radiations we are exposed to in the womb as well as throughout our lives that the vaccine’s contribution is negligible comparatively.

The book is interesting and informative. And while her own opinion is pretty clear by the end of the book, she definitely gives the reader the opportunity to make up their own mind. This book is exceptionally timely considering the present pandemic and the impending vaccine. Definitely recommend this one.

There is some profanity in the book. There is discussion of prostitutes and being held at gunpoint to force vaccination on a community (that really happened), but not explicit sexual or violent content.

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