Jennifer ReichAIRED: December 19, 2016– 11 am PST


TITLE: “CALLING THE SHOTS Why Parents Reject Vaccines”

SPECIAL GUEST: Jennifer Reich

“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. But she also shows how anti-vaccine stances by the privileged few may undermine the social compact and threaten the public good. This is a well-written, important, and very timely book.” —Steven Epstein, author of Inclusion: The Politics of Difference in Medical Research

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%. At the time of the measles outbreak, California’s vaccination rate for MMR was shockingly between 50% and 86%. Immunizations against childhood illnesses are touted as one of the greatest achievements in modern medicine, so why would parents rather risk their child contracting a deadly virus than simply receiving a round of vaccinations?

Without choosing a side in the vaccination debate, sociologist Jennifer A. Reich spent over a decade studying the phenomenon of vaccine refusal and interviewing everyone involved. Reich gives a fascinating account of these parents’ point of view. Placing these stories in dialogue with those of pediatricians who see the devastation vaccine-preventable diseases can cause and the policy makers who aim to create healthy communities, Calling the Shots offers a unique opportunity to understand the points of disagreement on what is best for children, communities, and public health and the opportunities to bridge these differences.


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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