Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, March 20, 2017

Biss On Immunity (pg 3 to 39)

In the very first short chapters of Eula Biss's On Immunity, Biss lays out the argument for across the board vaccination of young infants, adults, and the elderly. She begins by drawing on Greek myths to illustrate humanity’s concern with immunity and vulnerability, presenting the story of Achilles who was impervious to harm except for his ankles. After the birth of her first child, Biss is confronted with a dilemma: to vaccinate the newborn, or not. Biss, professing her own ignorance of the vaccination debate, dives into an investigation of our complicated history with vaccines, inoculation, and their affect on public health.
Biss’s use of Dracula, from the Bram Stoker novel, as a metaphor for disease was truly insightful for me and presented the vampire novel in a different light. Victorian-era concern with immunization and the suspicion of doctors and  medical workers echoes our modern qualm with the anti-vaccinators who believe immunization can cause autism and other illness, and the paranoia and lack of trust in medical and governmental agencies who advise public health policy. Biss’s use of herd immunity strongly presents the case for mass vaccination as it protects the most vulnerable of individuals: those are are unvaccinated and have little to no immunity. The person who lacks inoculation is protected by those who are and do not have that virus flowing through their bodies. Biss recommends to change the herd metaphor for that of hive, as honeybees are associated with environmental benefits and the healthy of the hive strongly depends on the individuals. I strongly agree; I believe rebranding is necessary to help encourage vaccination. 

1 comment:

  1. I thought interpreting Dracula as a metaphor for disease--which, to treat and prevent, we have to ground ourselves in evidence and truth--was really interesting too!