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State of Immunity:
The Politics of Vaccination in Twentieth-Century America
by James Colgrove

State of Immunity tells the story of how vaccination became an accepted public health measure over the course of the twentieth century. Today more than two dozen vaccines are in use, fourteen of which are universally recommended for children. This book examines the strategies that health officials have used-ranging from advertising and public relation campaigns to laws requiring children to be immunized before they can attend school.

The author, James Colgrove, an assistant professor at the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University, explores the relationship between the power of the state to ensure common welfare through vaccination and an individual's right to refuse intervention. Colgrove exposes valuable lessons of the past, like quarantine and isolation, along with conflicts between public health and individual rights-two subjects which remain pertinent to current debates in public health.

This book is an interesting read for any nurse involved in public health, education, or pediatrics. Readers will enjoy the quotes from newspapers and journals plus a variety of black and white photos promoting vaccinations, including a Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schultz dedicated to measles vaccination and a photograph of Elvis Presley as he received his polio vaccination.

Colgove ends his text with a recent quote from the Institute of Medicine, "The United States lacks a comprehensive scientific and policy approach to explore fully the ramification of the increasing number of vaccines that will soon be available." In the end, the reader is left with no clear answers to the problem, but a full history of vaccinations throughout the last century.

University of California Press
$39.95 (hardcover)