Hey y’all, each week I share a useful tip, insight, or recipe from a book I’m reading. As you might imagine, I get a TON of books to review every month. Today’s review is Vaccine Illusion by Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD.
Careful, there’s a biological weapon next to your coffee
No, it’s not the [insert incredibly nasty thing your child most recently brought home], which has joined your family for breakfast. According to this Salon.com article, it’s your child – if you don’t vaccinate, that is.
“Little Camden Cutler is weaponized to spread disease,” said the magazine of reality star Kristin Cavallari’s son after she revealed that he isn’t vaccinated. Naturally, the new baby she is expecting with her husband, NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, is also likely to be considered “weaponized” – as are other children whose parents who have chosen not to vaccinate. And so the celebrity ping-pong match of opinions continues:
- Jenny McCarthy says that vaccines made her son autistic and that diet helped him recover
- Amanda Peet calls parents who don’t vaccinate parasites, then apologizes (source)
- Robert F. Kennedy publishes “an article on Salon.com claiming that the government was trying to conceal the hidden dangers of vaccines.” (Source) Salon.com later removes the article and he publishes it on his own website. (You can find it here)
- Jennifer Lopez becomes a spokesperson for the Silence the Sounds of Pertussis campaign, which encourages parents to get their kids the DTap vaccine.
- Mayim Bailik, who plays a neuroscientist on The Big Bang Theory, reveals she doesn’t vaccinate. (Interestingly, she holds an actual PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA, so there’s that.)
Of course, celebrities and news media aren’t the only ones talking about vaccines. It EVERYWHERE – at playdates, in our living rooms, on Facebook. As useful and sometimes informative as this discussion is, it can also be confusing and frustrating.
For those of you who are looking for an intelligent presentation of the skeptics perspective, I highly recommend Vaccine Illusion by Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych.
“I never imagined myself in this position”
As the title implies, the book details the reasons behind Dr. Obukhanych’s gradual disillusionment with vaccines – a direction no one seems more surprised about than Dr. Obukhanych herself. “I never imagined myself in this position,” she writes, adding that she was “very enthusiastic” about vaccines in the beginning.
Dr. Obukhanych has studied immunology in some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions – she earned her PhD in Immunology at Rockefeller University in New York and did postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University. Vaccine Illusion a handbook for parents that draws on her formal training.
“This book is intended to give parents essential immunologic background for making vaccination decisions for their children,” she writes, adding that making a decision about vaccination is “an important responsibility that should not be left to any medical or scientific authority.” [Quick note: The book has a few grammatical irregularities. I have heard Dr. Obukhanych speak, and it is my guess that these irregularities stem from the fact that English is not her first language.]
I had to re-read a few sections to grasp certain concepts, but overall it’s very easy to understand. It’s also short and to the point – I was able to read it during one of Levi’s long naps last week.
So what does it cover, exactly?
This book is not a bunch of random facts to sift through. It is a well-organized, cohesive look at how vaccines got started, what we do and don’t know about them, and how Dr. Obukhanych believes they’re impacting us today:
- Vaccine Illusion describes vaccination theory as flawed from the beginning, and says the flawed thinking continues today. “Every new generation of immunologists is initiated into this illusion and inadvertently takes immunologic research in the direction that is further and further away from understanding the true basis of immunity.”
- You’ll hear the story of how ‘serum sickness’ led to the introduction of formaldehyde into vaccines, and why Obukhanych believes this alteration in method radically shifts how our bodies respond.
- You’ll get an insider perspective on the “double standards of scientific scrutiny” taking place in vaccine research
- She also challenges the generally accepted understanding of “immunologic memory,” which is cornerstone of vaccine theory. I learned some stuff in this section that was brand new to me, especially as it may relate to the alarming rise in children’s allergies.
- She explains why live vaccines are used in some formulas and killed in others, then describes why she thinks they aren’t effective.
- She also tells us what it means when immunologists say vaccines are “safe,” why we’re winning battles but losing the war with vaccines for bacterial diseases, how vaccination is putting vulnerable groups at risk, how diet and nutrition play a role in disease outcomes, how financial incentives drive research away from the study of natural immunity, and of course questions parents should ask when evaluating whether to vaccinate.
A good discussion on vaccines can only happen when we respectfully consider the best arguments on both sides. For that reason, I think this book is valuable reading for all who are interested in learning more about vaccination.
If you don’t have a Kindle, you can read it on this free Kindle Reader App for your computer, iPad, iPhone, Android, or Blackberry device.