We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE


The Debate in Modern America

Mark A. Largent

Publication Year: 2012

Since 1990, the number of mandated vaccines has increased dramatically. Today, a fully vaccinated child will have received nearly three dozen vaccinations between birth and age six. Along with the increase in number has come a growing wave of concern among parents about the unintended side effects of vaccines. In Vaccine, Mark A. Largent explains the history of the debate and identifies issues that parents, pediatricians, politicians, and public health officials must address. Nearly 40% of American parents report that they delay or refuse a recommended vaccine for their children. Despite assurances from every mainstream scientific and medical institution, parents continue to be haunted by the question of whether vaccines cause autism. In response, health officials herald vaccines as both safe and vital to the public's health and put programs and regulations in place to encourage parents to follow the recommended vaccine schedule. For Largent, the vaccine-autism debate obscures a constellation of concerns held by many parents, including anxiety about the number of vaccines required (including some for diseases that children are unlikely ever to encounter), unhappiness about the rigorous schedule of vaccines during well-baby visits, and fear of potential side effects, some of them serious and even life-threatening. This book disentangles competing claims, opens the controversy for critical reflection, and provides recommendations for moving forward.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (65.8 KB)

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (124.3 KB)
pp. 1-14

Over the past de cade, American parents have become increasingly anxious about following their pediatricians’ recommendations to fully vaccinate their children. As a result, about 40 percent of American parents today have chosen to delay certain vaccines or outright refuse to allow their children’s physicians...

read more

1. Risk and Reward

pdf iconDownload PDF (181.0 KB)
pp. 15-36

Annabelle, Fiona, and the millions of other American children born over the last twenty years have received an unpre ce dented number of vaccines. Between 1983 and 2005, the number of diseases against which children are routinely vaccinated doubled, and the number of mandated and recommended...

read more

2. Sources of Doubt

pdf iconDownload PDF (249.8 KB)
pp. 37-67

It is easy to fi nd claims about the risks posed by par tic u lar vaccines— or vaccines generally— to young children. For example, anti- vaccinators oft en claim that DPT (the vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) increases a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome or deafness and that...

read more

3. Thimerosal and Autism

pdf iconDownload PDF (212.3 KB)
pp. 68-93

Today, U.S. parents worry that certain vaccines cause or trigger certain health problems. Of all these perceived adverse eff ects, none elicits more anxiety than the belief that vaccines might cause autism. Autism and the closely related diagnoses of Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder—...

read more

4. MMR and Autism

pdf iconDownload PDF (328.6 KB)
pp. 94-135

The British vaccine controversy focused on the combined vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella and the allegation that it causes, triggers, or exacerbates symptoms associated with autism. As with thimerosal and autism in the United States, health offi cials in Britain quickly produced evidence that...

read more

5. Science and the Celebrity

pdf iconDownload PDF (180.5 KB)
pp. 136-156

Concerns about a potential link between vaccines and serious physical or neurological problems had fl oated around the alternative medicine community throughout most of the 1990s. But it was not until the late 1990s, compelled by the U.S. government- mandated exploration of mercury in food and...

read more

6. Getting to the Source of Anxiety

pdf iconDownload PDF (136.7 KB)
pp. 157-171

The public controversy about a possible link between vaccines and autism— which I want to again state exists in the face of powerful scientifi c evidence to the contrary— concerns me. Over the last two de cades we have seen a rapid escalation in both the number of vaccines administered to the average U.S....

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (69.0 KB)
pp. 172-176

I have concerns about the modern American vaccine schedule, and I am persuaded by some of the evidence launched against the scientifi c and medical communities. Because of this, I am willing to become a belligerent in the modern American vaccine debate, but not one who lines up on one side or...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (45.6 KB)
pp. 177

Long before this book went to press, a number of friends and colleagues read and commented on it, and many more helped me think through the issues I confronted in this project. What you see here is shaped by their comments, criticisms, and suggestions, and I sincerely appreciate their work. Among the...


pdf iconDownload PDF (427.7 KB)
pp. 179-214


pdf iconDownload PDF (373.7 KB)
pp. 215-222

E-ISBN-13: 9781421406725
E-ISBN-10: 1421406721
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421406077
Print-ISBN-10: 1421406071

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012