Book Review: The Vaccine Book by Robert W. Sears, M.D., F.A.A.P.
As someone who believes strongly in the principles of attachment parenting I have always loved the Dr. Sears series of books so I was very happy to find out that the Sears library was finally putting out a book on vaccinations.
Whether or not you vaccinate on schedule, selectively or don’t vaccinate at all, this is one topic that is heavily debated in playgroups everywhere. It’s also very difficult to find a book that is not overtly biased and that presents information in a very clear way.
The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child is written by Robert W. Sears, M.D., F.A.A.P. (son of William and Martha). Like most Sears books, information is presented in a clear, easy-to-read way, so that even if you have zero time to read the book cover to cover (although I will point out that I read it in a few hours) you can simply check it for the information that you need. Say you know that at your well-baby visit you are going to be asked if you want to give the Hep. B vaccine — simply pull out the book and read that one chapter to inform yourself. It’s really well-presented and informative.
Each chapter devotes itself to one vaccine and whichever disease(s) it is designed to prevent. Sears first explains the disease, what it is, how common and/or serious it is and whether or not it is treatable. He then goes on to explain how the vaccine is made, breaking it down by ingredients and explaining which ingredients are considered controversial (and, more importantly, why). He then breaks it down two more ways: Why someone would choose to have this vaccination and why they wouldn’t. Finally he gives his take on it.
Other chapters devote themselves to vaccine safety research, side effects, ingredients (broken down into more detail than in the first few chapters) and myths/questions among others. He also offers a delayed vaccination schedule
In order to cover up-to-date information which is virtually impossible in the print medium, he invites you to check out his website where he blogs about recent developments/changes to the information in his book.
Parents who are well-versed on both sides of the vaccine issue will find nothing new or surprising in this book but, like most Sears books, it’s a great introduction for anyone who is not familiar with non-mainstream parenting ideas. At the very least, it’s refreshing to hear a doctor say "Hey, don’t just blindly trust the medical industry." That said, anyone who is expecting Sears to share conspiracy theories or to at least hint at the possibility that certain vaccinations are not necessary or even dangerous will be disappointed — this is a pro-vax book through and through and even his alternate schedule is surprisingly heavy.
While Sears does a great job of remaining neutral throughout the book, that is what will ultimately disappoint many parents. Still, those parents are probably not his intended audience anyway. This book is targeted more toward the newly pregnant mom who had no idea prior to this that anyone would question whether or not one would vaccinate a newborn and that’s fine in my opinion, because the Sears library in general does a great job of introducing people to new issues and this book is just that — a very good introduction.