Review by Nathan Seppa
Vaccines, once the darlings of medical science, lost their reputation for safety in the 1980s and 1990s. After a flurry of disturbing "news-you-can-use" segments, some parents refused to get their kids immunized. For vaccines, the journey back to credibility has been slow.
Physician Paul Offit provides a road map for that voyage. In a meticulously researched tour de force, Offit exposes the lack of science underlying the claims of the anti-vaccine movement. Some fears were legitimate — polio and rotavirus vaccines, he notes, posed real risks for certain people. Both were replaced by safer vaccines.
But over the past 25 years, vaccines have been accused of causing multiple sclerosis, diabetes, learning disabilities and attention disorders. Under attack were shots for whooping cough, meningitis, measles and hepatitis B — all of which were later found to be safe.
The cause célèbre was a 1998 scare in which a British physician claimed to link