Wednesday, 2 September 2015

On Immunity: an inoculation

In the next edition to his Night shelf donations, Stephen Town tackles the issues around immunisation.

Biss, E., On Immunity, in the University Library at Y 6.079 BIS

I bought this book through having an interest in the immune system; having a wife who is deliberately immunosuppressed, following organ transplantation, creates a significant personal dimension to this field of biology.

Eula Biss is however not intent on covering this angle; her personal stake arises from the dilemma of mothers facing the question of childhood vaccination.

Photo: Protection for life via Compfight.
Used under a CreativeCommons licence 
This dilemma exists mainly in the minds of middle-class US mothers, and it is largely from that perspective that the book is written. Biss draws on her own new mother paranoia in a frank and honest way, and ranges widely across language, science and society, with such imagination and obsessive research that one is surprised in equal measure to the irritation one feels about those who ignore the scientific evidence and withdraw from vaccination programmes, putting everyone at new risk from lack of herd immunity.

Biss discusses this boundary between individual and collective interests in what is a classic digressive essay, with some engaging humour and ‘entangled language’.

1 comment:

  1. I found this review fun to read and reassuring, as I've got friends who are in the no-vaccination camp and it's hard to know what to think after they fill my ear about it. I confess I haven't read the Directorate's blog before, it got flagged up in an email asking for posts and I thought I'd have a look. Lovely stuff. Thanks for the post, Stephen.


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