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Vaccine Wars

The Two-Hundred-Year Fight for School Vaccinations

Kim Tolley

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The first comprehensive history of efforts to vaccinate children from contagious disease in US schools.

As protests over vaccine mandates increase in the twenty-first century, many people have raised concerns about a growing opposition to school vaccination requirements. What triggered anti-vaccine activism in the past, and why does it continue today? Americans have struggled with questions like this since the passage of the first school vaccination laws in 1827.

In Vaccine Wars, Kim Tolley lays out the first comprehensive history of the nearly two-hundred-year struggle to protect...

The first comprehensive history of efforts to vaccinate children from contagious disease in US schools.

As protests over vaccine mandates increase in the twenty-first century, many people have raised concerns about a growing opposition to school vaccination requirements. What triggered anti-vaccine activism in the past, and why does it continue today? Americans have struggled with questions like this since the passage of the first school vaccination laws in 1827.

In Vaccine Wars, Kim Tolley lays out the first comprehensive history of the nearly two-hundred-year struggle to protect schoolchildren from infectious diseases. Drawing from extensive archival sources—including state and federal reports, court records, congressional hearings, oral interviews, correspondence, journals, school textbooks, and newspapers—Tolley analyzes resistance to vaccines in the context of evolving views about immunization among doctors, families, anti-vaccination groups, and school authorities. The resulting story reveals the historic nature of the ongoing struggle to reach a national consensus about the importance of vaccination, from the smallpox era to the COVID-19 pandemic. This well-researched and engaging book illustrates how the history of vaccination is deeply intertwined with the history of education. As stopping the spread of communicable diseases in classrooms became key to protection, vaccination became mandatory at the time of admission to school, and the decision to vaccinate was no longer a private, personal decision without consequence to others.

Tolley's focus on schools reveals longstanding challenges and tensions in implementing vaccination policies. Vaccine Wars underscores recurring themes that have long roiled political debates over vaccination, including the proper reach of state power; the intersection of science, politics, and public policy; and the nature of individual liberty in a modern democracy.

Reviews

Reviews

This book is excellent and couldn't be more timely, thorough, or engaging. Vaccine Wars provides a careful look at schools—a perspective in the evolution of arguments about vaccines that is often missing—and the result is extremely valuable and original.

Tolley argues that because schools are the site of both contagion and prevention, they have served as the cornerstone of disease eradication programs and have been embroiled in larger issues of democracy, community, legislation, politics, and health, as well as education.

Kim Tolley has written a timely, beautifully crafted history of vaccination policy since the early 1800s. Why have some citizens in every era opposed vaccination? Why have they placed other Americans, including children, at risk? What explains our current partisan divide over vaccination? The answers are here in this fascinating book.

Vaccine Wars is a fascinating, often surprising examination of one of the most valuable—and most contentious—of all public health interventions. Tolley's deeply researched and insightful analysis fills in critical gaps in our historical understanding of this issue and offers important lessons for current policy makers.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
384
ISBN
9781421447612
Illustration Description
3 halftones, 14 line drawings
Table of Contents

List of Tables, Figures, and Charts
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I. The Long Fight against Smallpox: From Support to Complacency and Opposition
1. The Rise of School Vaccination Laws
2. The National

List of Tables, Figures, and Charts
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I. The Long Fight against Smallpox: From Support to Complacency and Opposition
1. The Rise of School Vaccination Laws
2. The National Anti-vaccination Societies and the Schools
3. Taking Schools to Court: The Legal Battles
4. Schools against Vaccination Mandates: A Case Study
Part II. A Sea Change: From Persuasion to Compulsion in the Quest for Herd Immunity
5. Schools and the Campaign against Polio
6. Schools in the Age of Eradication
7. Vaccine Hesitancy and the Rise of Personal Belief Exemptions
8. The Twenty-First-Century Effort to Preserve Immunity in Schools
Conclusion
Appendix. Selected Court Cases and Rulings Cited in the Text, 1830-2021
Notes
Archival and Digitized Sources
Index

Author Bio
Kim Tolley
Featured Contributor

Kim Tolley

Kim Tolley is a historian of education and professor emerita of Notre Dame de Namur University. She is the author of The Science Education of American Girls: A Historical Perspective and editor of Professors in the Gig Economy: Unionizing Adjunct Faculty in America.