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‘Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases’ Book Review

Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest DiseasesMost readers will not know the name Maurice Hilleman upon opening up Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases. Hilleman is an unsung hero who has saved countless lives throughout the world. He is the father of modern vaccines, creating eight of the recommended vaccines that almost every child in the United States receives today. In Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases, Paul A. Offit, MD, presents a glimpse into the life and live-saving work of Hilleman.

Paul A. Offit, MD is 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. Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases is based on a series of interviews with Hilleman conducted by Offit.

Within the personal history of Hilleman lies a history of vaccines. After growing up on a farm in Montana, Hilleman proceeded to create the vaccines that prevented the suffering, disability, and death of measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, pneumococcus, meningococcus, and Haemophilius influenzae type b (Hib). No other man has done so much to save countless lives while remaining virtually unknown to the people that he benefited. But Hilleman was a humble man.

Offit begins Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases by describing some of the contents of the National Millennium Time Capsule that marked the end of the twentieth century. One of the items is a clear plastic block that contains the vaccines that Hilleman created. He then describes the birth, childhood, and younger years of the father of modern vaccines, portraying a man from humble beginnings who went on to create some of the most important, most life-saving medicine available.

The majority of Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases describes the creation of the vaccines that Hilleman created. Most interesting to me is that Hilleman created the mumps vaccine after his own daughter came down with the disease. Determined to prevent future suffering from the illness, Hilleman used samples from his daughter to create his mumps vaccine. Although his daughter did not benefit from his vaccine, his granddaughter did. A photograph of his granddaughter receiving his mumps vaccine while his daughter looks on speaks volumes.

If you are interested in the history of disease and vaccines, Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases is a fascinating read. The book is also incredibly useful for parents who are questioning the contents of vaccines and the process of creating vaccines. Although unintentionally, Offit dispels many of the myths surrounding the creation of vaccines. The science is absolutely amazing, yet Offit writes at a level that makes the information accessible to a general audience.

Final Verdict: Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases by Paul A. Offit is an important historical account of the history of vaccines, which is also the history of Maurice Hilleman, the father of modern vaccines and an unsung hero. Parents interested in the creation of vaccines will benefit from reading this book. Although full of scientific information, Offit succeeds in making the content accessible to readers outside the medical community. Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases is a fascinating and important book that illustrates the importance of vaccination by narrating the history of vaccines that present a number of disabling and deadly diseases.

References

Offit, Paul A. 2007. Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases. Smithsonian Books.

Image Credits

Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases © 2014 Heather Johnson

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