The most recommended vaccine books

Who picked these books? Meet our 5 experts.

5 authors created a book list connected to vaccines, and here are their favorite vaccine books.
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Book cover of Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines

Robert P. Crease Author Of The Workshop and the World: What Ten Thinkers Can Teach Us About Science and Authority

From my list on why people reject science and endanger themselves.

Who am I?

In the summer of 2017 I went to see the Mer de Glace, the longest glacier in France and a tourist spot for over 200 years. But this dramatic and overwhelming glacier had all but melted away and I found myself in a dry valley a mile across and half a mile deep – concrete evidence of global warming. It was one of the most disturbing experiences I have ever had. As a philosopher and historian of science, I dedicated myself to discovering how and why people were accusing reputable scientists of dishonesty, incompetence, and aloofness while staring at the evidence. The answer is not simple, and requires a lot of telling and hearing stories.

Robert's book list on why people reject science and endanger themselves

Robert P. Crease Why did Robert love this book?

Why do many parents endanger their children by refusing to vaccinate them? They aren’t, writes Jennifer A. Reich, who studied such parents for over a decade. They aren’t ignorant or irrational – they are highly committed to protecting their children, and are trying to make sense of what they hear and know in their environment. Read this book if you want to understand why people selectively hear, mistrust, or reject scientific information, and seek out alternative ‘experts’ who tell them essentially what they want to hear.

By Jennifer A. Reich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Calling the Shots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, 2018 Donald W. Light Award for Applied Medical Sociology, American Sociological Association Medical Sociology Section
Winner, 2018 Distinguished Scholarship Award presented by the Pacific Sociology Association
Honorable Mention, 2017 ESS Mirra Komarovsky Book Award presented by the Eastern Sociological Society
Outstanding Book Award for the Section on Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity presented by the American Sociological Association
A rich, multi-faceted examination into the attitudes and beliefs of parents who choose not to immunize their children
The measles outbreak at Disneyland in December 2014 spread to a half-dozen U.S. states and sickened 147 people. It is just one recent…


Book cover of Microbe Hunters

Nina Burleigh Author Of VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

From my list on understanding the COVID vaccine.

Who am I?

I am a journalist and author who has been lucky enough to follow my curiosity wherever it led – from politics and presidents to climate change and crime. Most of my books explore a theme that fascinates me – the tension between science and religion, faith and reason, that is a defining challenge of our era. I have a deep respect for science, but, like most, an amateur’s understanding of it. The global pandemic has confirmed the need for accessible science writing to help us bring our understanding in line with what’s going on in the labs.

Nina's book list on understanding the COVID vaccine

Nina Burleigh Why did Nina love this book?

We live in the most medically protected time in human history. Before about two hundred years ago, we were utterly helpless against infectious diseases – we could neither see nor conceive of what caused them. This book, written in the 1920s, tells in vivid prose, the story of the discovery of microbes, beginning with the Dutch businessman who ground the first lenses enabling the human eye to see the “animalcules” that Louis Pasteur and others eventually matched with their deadly effects, enabling humanity to begin to fight back.

By Paul de Kruif,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Microbe Hunters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“It manages to delight, and frequently to entrance, old and new readers [and] continues to engage our hearts and minds today with an indescribably brand of affectionate sympathy.”—F. Gonzalez-Crussi, from the Introduction

An international bestseller, translated into eighteen languages, Paul de Kruif’s classic account of the first scientists to see and learn about the microscopic world continues to fascinate new readers. This is a timeless dramatization of the scientists, bacteriologists, doctors, and medical technicians who discovered the microbes and invented the vaccines to counter them. De Kruif writes about how seemingly simple but really fundamental discovers of science—for instance, how…


Book cover of Overload Flux

Greta van der Rol Author Of Conspiracy

From my list on sci-fi romance with action and adventure in stars.

Who am I?

For me, writing space opera was obvious because it's what I like to read. There's so much scope for human and non-human societies out there, complete with the history of how they were created, and the inevitable cut-and-thrust of politics. If the book also has a love story– where do I pay my money? I do like the science in my science fiction to be convincing, though. My background as a computer programmer helps with that and I'm often grateful for my history degree when coming up with convincing empires and events. 

Greta's book list on sci-fi romance with action and adventure in stars

Greta van der Rol Why did Greta love this book?

Mix a couple of strong, mysterious characters with a dangerous quest and you've got me. It's a plot where I had to pay attention as the danger ratchets up with betrayals and twists and turns that kept me guessing. There's enough detail in settings and tech to convince without any info dumps and the romance is an integral part of the story. Loved it.

By Carol Van Natta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Overload Flux as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the cure for a deadly disease is stolen, two misfits are all that stands between greed and intergalactic tragedy.

Luka Foxe can’t let anyone know about his secret mental abilities. Debilitated by their influence when faced with violence, the brilliant forensic investigator now only takes assignments involving theft. But when he has to hunt down a hijacked vaccine for a galaxy-wide pandemic, the tragic first clue is his best friend’s brutal murder.

Nightshift guard Mairwen Morganthur knows she must keep a low profile. The product of illegal genetic alteration, she’s a lethal weapon with no social graces. But when…


Book cover of How to Make a Vaccine: An Essential Guide for Covid-19 and Beyond

K. Lee Lerner Author Of Biotechnology: In Context

From my list on biotechnology.

Who am I?

K. Lee Lerner is an author, editor, and producer of science and factual media, including four editions of the Gale Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. His expansive writing on science, climate change, disasters, disease, and global issues has earned multiple book and media awards, including books named Outstanding Academic Titles. An aviator, sailor, and member of the National Press Club in Washington, his two global circumnavigations and portfolio of work in challenging and dangerous environments reveal a visceral drive to explore and investigate. With a public intellectual's broad palate and a scientist's regard for evidence-based analysis, Lerner dissects and accessibly explains complex issues. 

K.'s book list on biotechnology

K. Lee Lerner Why did K. love this book?

John Rhodes, author of The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease now offers us a timely, concise, and easy-to-digest book that spans the history of vaccines, including the recent development of mRNA vaccines now on the frontlines of efforts to quell the COVID-19 global pandemic. Rhodes' experience and expertise in immunology and vaccine development show in his clear and easy-to-understand explanations of how vaccines work and why they are an essential public health tool.

By John Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Make a Vaccine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of the world, changing our relationship to our communities, to our jobs, and to each other, the most pressing question has been-when will it end? Researchers around the globe are urgently trying to answer this question by racing to test and distribute a vaccine that could end the greatest public health threat of our time. In How to Make a Vaccine, an expert who has firsthand experience developing vaccines tells an optimistic story of how three hundred years of vaccine discovery and a century and a half of immunology research have come…


Book cover of Do You Believe in Magic?: Vitamins, Supplements, and All Things Natural: A Look Behind the Curtain

Nina Burleigh Author Of VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

From my list on understanding the COVID vaccine.

Who am I?

I am a journalist and author who has been lucky enough to follow my curiosity wherever it led – from politics and presidents to climate change and crime. Most of my books explore a theme that fascinates me – the tension between science and religion, faith and reason, that is a defining challenge of our era. I have a deep respect for science, but, like most, an amateur’s understanding of it. The global pandemic has confirmed the need for accessible science writing to help us bring our understanding in line with what’s going on in the labs.

Nina's book list on understanding the COVID vaccine

Nina Burleigh Why did Nina love this book?

Dr. Offitt invented one of the most important vaccines introduced in recent years, against a common childhood illness rotavirus, that was deadly in developing countries. In this engaging and sometimes very funny book, he takes on the alternative medicine world and makes a strong case for relying on the scientific method. This is a fact-based book you can share to help people assess false claims.

By Paul A. Offit,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do You Believe in Magic? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.

Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.

Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some…


Book cover of Vaccine Hesitancy: Public Trust, Expertise, and the War on Science

Taylor Dotson Author Of The Divide: How Fanatical Certitude Is Destroying Democracy

From my list on healing America’s dying democracy.

Who am I?

Conflict and disagreement have always interested me. I was a middle child, so I naturally fell into the role of peacemaker. But I also had strong opinions, and I always thought I knew the right answer. The pursuit of education, love, and a career brought me to rural Montana, an Asian metropolis, and everywhere in between. These experiences deepened my fascination regarding how people could have such different beliefs, and how we are to live together despite those differences. A PhD in Science and Technology Studies, supervised by a political scientist, sent me on the path to diagnosing what ails American democracy, and what the cure might be.

Taylor's book list on healing America’s dying democracy

Taylor Dotson Why did Taylor love this book?

Despite ever louder calls to “follow the science,” vaccine skepticism only seems to be rising.

Maya Goldenberg’s arguments helped me see why handwringing over the “war on expertise” fails and how we could do better. She shows that the crisis is rooted in declining public trust of medical institutions. Vaccine Hesitancy helped open my eyes to a critical fact: Medical skepticism is a rational response to a history of research scandals, corporate misconduct, and discrimination.

I honestly believe that had public officials paid attention to books like Vaccine Hesitancy, the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic would not have torn Americans apart. 

By Maya J. Goldenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vaccine Hesitancy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The public has voiced concern over the adverse effects of vaccines from the moment Dr. Edward Jenner introduced the first smallpox vaccine in 1796. The controversy over childhood immunization intensified in 1998, when Dr. Andrew Wakefield linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Although Wakefield's findings were later discredited and retracted, and medical and scientific evidence suggests routine immunizations have significantly reduced life-threatening conditions like measles, whooping cough, and polio, vaccine refusal and vaccine-preventable outbreaks are on the rise.

This book explores vaccine hesitancy and refusal among parents in the industrialized North. Although biomedical, public health, and popular science literature has…


Book cover of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver

Nina Burleigh Author Of VIRUS: Vaccinations, the CDC and the Hjacking of America’s Response to he Pandemic

From my list on understanding the COVID vaccine.

Who am I?

I am a journalist and author who has been lucky enough to follow my curiosity wherever it led – from politics and presidents to climate change and crime. Most of my books explore a theme that fascinates me – the tension between science and religion, faith and reason, that is a defining challenge of our era. I have a deep respect for science, but, like most, an amateur’s understanding of it. The global pandemic has confirmed the need for accessible science writing to help us bring our understanding in line with what’s going on in the labs.

Nina's book list on understanding the COVID vaccine

Nina Burleigh Why did Nina love this book?

Most of us can’t even pronounce the names of the childhood diseases vaccines have almost eradicated, nor can we imagine the parental grief, and childhood suffering, that those diseases routinely inflicted on families until well into the 20th Century. This comprehensive history reminds us that the development of vaccines was always a see-saw between life-saving advances, and terrible mistakes and failures.

By Arthur Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vaccine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vaccine juxtaposes the stories of brilliant scientists with the industry's struggle to produce safe, effective, and profitable vaccines. It focuses on the role of military and medical authority in the introduction of vaccines and looks at why some parents have resisted this authority. Political and social intrigue have often accompanied vaccination-from the divisive introduction of smallpox inoculation in colonial Boston to the 9,000 lawsuits recently filed by parents convinced that vaccines caused their children's autism. With narrative grace and investigative journalism, Arthur Allen reveals a history illuminated by hope and shrouded by controversy, and he sheds new light on changing…