Episode 119: How Vaccines Became Controversial with Stuart Blume

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Stuart Blume, a professor emeritus of science and technology studies at the University of Amsterdam. Blume’s latest book, entitled Immunization: How Vaccines Became Controversial, is an important and extremely relevant-to-the-moment work that is the focus of this episode. At a time when vaccines are a vital tool in the fight against Covid-19 in all its various mutations, Blume’s hard-hitting book takes a longer historical perspective. It argues that globalization and cuts to healthcare have been eroding faith in the institutions producing and providing vaccines for more than thirty years. It tells the history of immunization from the work of early pioneers such as Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch through the eradication of smallpox in 1980, to the recent introduction of new kinds of genetically engineered vaccines. Immunization exposes the limits of public health authorities while suggesting how they can restore our confidence in the fight against infectious disease. In this episode host Michael Shields and guest Stuart Blume examine how vaccines protect the human body while also looking at how exactly viruses are “born” into human populations. They contemplate the dawn of vaccine hesitancy, converse about the corporations and politicians that are chiefly to blame for it, and champion the idea that while vaccine technologies are extraordinary tools, addressing the root causes of viruses is absolutely crucial in confronting urgent public health concerns.

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