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State of Immunity

The Politics of Vaccination in Twentieth-Century America

James Colgrove (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 349 pages
ISBN: 9780520247499
October 2006
$85.00, £66.00
This first comprehensive history of the social and political aspects of vaccination in the United States tells the story of how vaccination became a widely accepted public health measure over the course of the twentieth century. One hundred years ago, just a handful of vaccines existed, and only one, for smallpox, was widely used. Today more than two dozen vaccines are in use, fourteen of which are universally recommended for children. State of Immunity examines the strategies that health officials have used—ranging from advertising and public relations campaigns to laws requiring children to be immunized before they can attend school—to gain public acceptance of vaccines. Like any medical intervention, vaccination carries a small risk of adverse reactions. But unlike other procedures, it is performed on healthy people, most commonly children, and has been mandated by law. Vaccination thus poses unique ethical, political, and legal questions.

James Colgrove considers how individual liberty should be balanced against the need to protect the common welfare, how experts should act in the face of incomplete or inconsistent scientific information, and how the public should be involved in these decisions. A well-researched, intelligent, and balanced look at a timely topic, this book explores these issues through a vivid historical narrative that offers new insights into the past, present, and future of vaccination.
List of Illustrations
Foreword by Daniel M. Fox

Introduction: Vaccination Politics and Law in American History
1. Between Persuasion and Compulsion: Vaccination at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
2. Science in a Democracy: Smallpox Vaccination in the Progressive Era and the 1920s
3. Diphtheria Immunization: The Power, and the Limits, of Persuasion
4. Hard Cores and Soft Spots: Selling the Polio Vaccine
5. Eradicationism and Its Discontents
6. Consent, Compulsion, and Compensation: Vaccination Programs in Crisis
7. Expansion and Backlash: Vaccination at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

Archival Sources
James Colgrove is Associate Research Scientist at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.
“Well referenced and informative.”—Jama
“A most welcome entry into the social and political history of vaccination. . . . Colgrove’s well-researched and very readable book has provided a superb foundation on which future scholars can build.”—Lynne Curry Journal Of American History
“An elegant and original contribution to the history of medicine and to health policy.”—Journal Of The History Of Medicine
“Intriguing and entertaining. [A] thorough and balanced review of the controversies surrounding vaccination.”—New England Journal Of Medicine
“Captures the emotions that shaped the course of vaccination efforts in the United States from the beginning of the 20th century to contemporary times. . . . breathtaking narrative.”—Science (AAAS)

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