Review of Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization

Lucas Richert

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review


Vaccines are significant medical interventions that naturally induce powerful economic, social, and political reactions. Vaccines have helped shaped narratives about American scientific and technological ingenuity, as well as therapeutic progress, yet they have also been ‘cast in the image of their own time’ (p. 10), The pathway to effective, accepted vaccines has been neither simple nor straightforward. In Elena Conis’s penetrating new book, Vaccine Nation, this fluid negotiation over vaccines for polio, pertussis and Human papillomavirus (HPV), among others, is on full display. We are exposed to a ‘wildly diverse set of influences, including Cold War anxiety, the growing value of children, the emergence of HIV/AIDS, changing fashion trends, and immigration’, that have shaped vaccine acceptance—as well as resistance (pp. 2–3). Conis, a former journalist, offers punchy and accessible prose as she skilfully traces the ebb-and-flow of vaccine history from the 1960s to the present.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Specialist publicationSocial History of Medicine
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2016


  • vaccine
  • America
  • immunization


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