By: Judy Levin
On Immunity: An Inoculation/By Eula Biss
Every new mother faces the question of whether or not to immunize her newborn child. But a pregnant woman today better have her information and response ready before delivering that baby since the first dose of the now recommended vaccination HepB (Hepatitis B), must be given within hours of birth, and certainly before the mother and child are discharged from the hospital. Eula Biss, award-winning author, recipient of numerous grants and fellowships and teacher at Northwestern University faced the question of immunization while pregnant with her son, born the season of the H1N1 flu epidemic scare of 2001-02. Listening and reading and researching, asking, discussing and cogitating on the pros and cons of vaccination sent her into a frenzy of worry and then more research into the myths, history, science and fear of disease and vaccination.
This book, really an extended essay, speaks to those fears every parent faces about thimerosal and squalene, and every other additive in addition to the vaccines themselves which are meant to protect our children but are accused of harming at least some of them instead. Why do these fears persist when science has tested and ensured us that those accusations are incorrect? What about anecdotal evidence reported by parents themselves who saw their own child’s adverse reaction to various immunizations? How do we determine the best way to protect our child – by giving them the immunizing vaccines or by keeping them safe from the possible harm a vaccine can cause? And what about our place in a community? Biss considers that there are indeed some children who cannot be immunized due to other health concerns (and occasionally religious or cultural ones). Are the rest of us obligated morally to keep disease away from those few by limiting their exposure to all those childhood diseases if the rest of “the herd” are immunized?
Biss does indeed eventually decide to immunize her son, especially after reflecting on her own life-threatening situation. A post-delivery inverted uterus sent her into emergency surgery where she received two liters of blood and needed “many hands inside of her” as she was later told, to save her, repair her and return her to begin motherhood.
Some readers will find Biss’s worries crossing over into obsession, but many new or expectant mothers (and grandmothers as well) will relate to and even find comfort in reading how Biss dealt with those fears.
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JUDY LEVIN - Book Reviews
Judy Levin has been facilitating discussions with book lovers for nearly 35 years. With a teaching degree and an English major put to excellent use, Judy currently facilitates and moderates discussions for 30 groups including libraries, organizations and private groups. A life-long Chicago land girl, Judy is a daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother. Follow Judy on Twitter and Facebook and see what’s trending and newsworthy.