If you are a parent looking for information on the efficacy and safety of vaccines, look no further than Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives by Stacy Mintzer Herlihy and E. Allison Hagood. Although Herlihy is a freelance writer and Hagood is a psychology professor, the book is thoroughly researched. Lending credibility to the book is a foreword from Paul A. Offit, MD, the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and Professor Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives begins with a brief history of vaccines starting with the original smallpox vaccine from Edward Jenner. Two chapters cover the biology of vaccines and the ingredients in current vaccines. The rest of the book focuses on the world before vaccines including high complication and death rates from now preventable diseases, actual adverse reactions from vaccines, and vaccine myths including the autism-vaccine myth. A bibliography provides additional research and reading.
Accurate information about vaccines can sometimes appear decipherable, filled with discourse from the scientific and research community. Herlihy and Hagood do an exceptionally good job of making the most important information about vaccines accessible to a general audience in Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives. For example, in the section on the ingredients in vaccines, the authors name the ingredients as listed on vaccine packages but then delve into those ingredients, explaining the purpose of the sometimes scary sounding chemicals in layman’s terms. Formaldehyde in a vaccine sounds scary but seems more benign once the fact that the chemical is found naturally in many foods such as apricots, pears, potatoes, shrimp, and coffee and is produced and excreted by the human body.
The sections on vaccine myths in Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives are also invaluable to parents. The internet, newspapers, other media, and even family and friends are full of well-meaning but horribly inaccurate advice about vaccines. Herlihy and Hagood devote entire chapters to discussing and debunking myths associated with vaccines. In addition to the chapters on autism, the chapter on other vaccine myths provide valuable information including legitimate research that refutes many of the major myths.
Final Verdict: Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives by Stacy Mintzer Herlihy and E. Allison Hagood with a foreword by Paul A. Offit, MD, is an invaluable resource for parents researching vaccines. Written for a general audience, the book makes information about vaccines accessible to parents without advanced degrees in immunology, vaccinology, or epidemiology. In particular, the chapter on the ingredients in modern vaccines is especially enlightening and useful for anyone worried or curious about the materials used to create vaccines. I highly recommend Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives to all parents.
Herlihy, Mintzer Stacy & E. Allison Hagood. 2012. Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers: Lanham.
Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives © 2014 Heather Johnson