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Jennifer Riech discusses value of vaccines

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Lessons Learned

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“Recent outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough are focusing attention on this issue, making Reich's able contribution especially pertinent.”  —Kirkus Reviews

“Calling the Shots treads confidently into the explosive terrain of vaccine refusal. In this must-read exploration of the burdens of modern mothering, Reich takes seriously the desires of mothers to make their own decisions to protect their children from risks.

In 2015, California lawmakers voted to approve SB 277, a bill that ends granting vaccine exemptions to parents who cite personal or religious reasons; medical exemptions are still allowed. This ruling came as a huge blow to the powerful anti-vaccination movement, but after 147 people contracted measles at Disneyland in late 2014, the decision was clear.  In order to prevent a widespread outbreak of measles, mumps, and rubella, the national vaccination rate must be between 96% and 99%.   so why would parents rather risk their child contracting a deadly virus than simply receiving a round of vaccinations?

Sociologist Jennifer A. Reich spent over a decade studying the phenomenon of vaccine refusal and interviewing everyone involved, from the of parents who distrust vaccines and the corporations that make them, to the health providers and policy makers who see them as essential to ensuring community health.  Without choosing a side in the vaccination debate, Reich examines how parents who choose not to vaccinate see their decision: what they fear, what they hope to control and what they believe is in their child’s best interest.

Jennifer A. Reich is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado Denver. She is the author of the award-winning book, Fixing Families: Parents, Power, and the Child Welfare System and co-editor of Reproduction and Society.

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