Your Baby’s Best Shot

Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives by Stacy Mintzer Herlihy & E. Allison Hagood

Type “vaccines” into the search engine of In the blink of an eye, you will be presented with a list of titles. Bob Sears’  exercise in hubris comes top of the list and is, perhaps, the most dangerous of them all. He is, for those of you on my side of the pond, a paediatrician who instead of educating parents that vaccines are, for the most part, safe and effective,  has come up with his own “alternative schedule” to pander to the fear that too many vaccines are given in too short a time frame. His schedule leaves children vulnerable to potentially deadly vaccine preventable diseases for longer than the recommended schedule and exponentially increases the stress of children subjected to his by their fearful parents.

Sears’ book flatters the confused parent. Buying his book was a wise decision, he implies, because those fears have a much stronger foundation than what any “ordinary” paediatrician, infectious disease specialist or epidemiologist will tell you. Your Baby’s Best Shot takes a rather different tack. Herlihy and Hagood acknowledge that parents having to make the decision of whether or not to vaccinate their children may well have misgivings. They explore the origins of those doubts and rather than commend or condemn parents for fostering them, attack the doubts themselves, tearing them out by their very roots. More, this is a manual on critical thinking and the insights into psychology and behaviour that Hagood, a community college psychology professor,  brings to the work are applicable to countless other issues and situations parents face and decisions they have to make everyday.

This is a writing duo to be reckoned with. Hagood announces early on that she is not a parent. Her analysis of the vaccine manufacturversy is a wholly objective one.  Herlihy, a writer of wit, charm and experience and a mother,  recounts her tale of paranoia following her daughter being vaccinated, effectively demonstrating the power of anecdote and the human propensity to empathy. Combine these two women and you have a book that sticks like glue to the evidence that “vaccines are safe and save lives” but has huge amounts of heart and a conversational but never flippant tone  that conveys   a deep understanding of the toll  fear and information overload can take on frazzled, possibly sleep deprived parent’s critical faculties.

Vaccine scares are put into context. The methods used to whip up a frenzy and spread fear are dissected. The individuals responsible for starting and perpetuating the current anti-vaccine myths are discussed at length. The chapter on the Geiers and their hideous chelation protocols involving chemically castrating autistic children with lupron, and that evaluating Andrew Wakefield’s abuse, lies and financial jiggerypokery are superb. Though the language is measured, the reader is left with no doubt that the authors of the book find these characters utterly despicable. I’d love to read a “gloves off” version of those chapters.  The anti-vaccine propaganda is juxtaposed with the reality that vaccines are the greatest medical advance in the history of human kind. The case is stated perfectly with regard to small pox, “No mother today mourns the loss of her children because of this once-dreaded disease.”

If I were to level one criticism at the book it is that, though autism is discussed in some depth in relation to vaccines, the effect of the anti-vaccination movement on the lives of autistic people is only really touched upon in terms of the treatments the Geiers et al encourage parents to put their kids through. The movement has not only shifted the way in which parents view health care professionals, vaccines and even disease itself, autism has been used as a device to instill fear of vaccines and generate revenue for quacks who claim they can “recover” children from it. The suffering of autistic children because of this modern era fear mongering is disproportionate to their number. Their parents are coaxed into and then trapped in a cycle of anger and grief and adults with autism are sidelined in discussions of their condition by these parents of the next generation of autistic adults.

Your Baby’s Best Shot covers a lot of ground and a fair bit of history with forty pages of notes and references at the end. Never, though, does reading this book feel like a slog. There are no inches of footnotes at the end of each page as the research discussed and the sources referenced are cited seamlessly in the main text.  Even the science heavy chapters relating to how vaccines and the immune system work are somehow imbued with the same warmth of tone of the chapters preceding and following them.  Tricky concepts are related in concrete terms of everyday experience. One can almost imagine going for a coffee with the authors and them moving salt shakers and sugar bowls around the table to demonstrate what happens when a vaccine is received. In these passages their love of science and its discoveries are clear to the reader. These authors are passionate about this subject.

This is not a book that gives equal weight to both sides of the vaccine debate, nor should it. The weight of evidence is well and truly on the side of vaccines being very safe and very effective at protecting against the diseases they are designed to prevent. This isn’t a book encouraging parents to make up their own minds. It is a book written not to persuade but to demonstrate that vaccinating a child who can be vaccinated is a loving act of a responsible parent.

Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives by Stacy Mintzer Herlihy & E. Allison Hagood is published by Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978 1 4422 1578 8



      1. Unless your child is vaccine injured, like mine, this sounds accurate. However, the people telling you the vaccines are safe are literally on the payroll of Merck. Offit and Gerberding have made millions off of vaccines. You are telling me that it is logical that people who make millions of dollars off of the vaccines are the same people telling us the are safe? It’s a shame that you don’t listen to the parents of vaccine injured children. 1 in 29 boys now has autism, guess what they all have in common? Vaccines. How dare you

      2. Provide citations and yes, people like Dr Offit who were involved in developing vaccines and ensuring their safety might know a thing or two. And I “dare” because it disgusts and sickens me to hear autistic people described as “damaged”.

  1. I was quite excited to receive this book in the mail when I ordered it. Now after reading this great review it gave me the push to get back on track with my back-to-school reading list!

  2. Wouldn’t it be great if all new parents were given this in their discharge package after a delivery? A useful way to spend government funds, and a cost-effective one if such a government would actually care to reduce the costs of preventable diseases.
    As background, I should explain my rather ordinary experiences (ordinary for my age, of course! Ǣtatis 1958.) I have personally had measles, chickenpox, shingles and mumps. I remember mumps the best as I enjoyed the complication of pancreatitis. In childhood I had many ear infections, most of which are due to H.influenzae, Strep. pneumoniae, and M. catarrhalis (all of which are preventable with vaccines) and as a result, have no hearing in my left ear and about 50% in my right. After I graduated from medical school, I saw in my paeds residency kids with strep and hemophilus meningitis each week and a few deaths. Later I saw teens die from meningococcal meningitis. I saw a kid die from varicella encephalitis as well. My wife saw kids in Kenya die from tetanus after having cow dung pressed onto their cut umbilical cords after birth.
    None of this should be considered acceptable by any rational being. I happen to have an autistic son, who has done incredibly well in terms of coping with his differences. He was plainly different long before he had vaccines, and given that he has several generations of eccentric engineers in his background, who needs to look for a vaccine to blame? I don’t. It was my genes and I’m sorry for any problems they caused him, but I love him as he is and wouldn’t actually want him to change, even if I had a magic wand. He is bright and eccentric and very stimulating. Even as an undergraduate he just had a summer job analysing data from the Large Hadron Collider. We might need such people. Let’s approve of some neurodiversity and improve our chances of another Newton or Einstein!

  3. TIME TO WAKE UP PARENTS! People is so ignorant and still load the little children with all the toxins in the vaccines , (mercury, aluminum, , etc etc… and they are so glad because they swear are immunized what a lie and danger ,Not only are vaccines essentially useless, but vaccines containing mercury are definitely harming children. However, the mainstream media not only continues to deny any link between mercury and neurological disorders, it is actually trying to convince the public that the exact opposite may be true. (
    Learn more:

    1. Whenever a comment starts with “WAKE UP” especially all in caps, I know hilarity will ensue. Pati, you haven’t let me down.
      What could be more hilarious than a shouty rehash of long debunked lies and a bit of conspiracy theory followed by links to youtube and Natural News?

    2. Pati,

      My God woman! Have you no shame?

      You’ve been warned not to bother quoting such pseudoscientific dribble such as Natural News. Frankly, it’s insulting to those who know what constitutes legitimate sources. Hint. The scientists that actually DO the research.Not some uneducated in the sciences (Mike Adams) fool with an anti-mainstream medicine agenda.

    3. ‘the mainstream media continues to deny any link’
      Luckily, scientific consensus isn’t decided by what the media reports.

      1. It occurs to me (and I should nod towards Ms Palin for actually teaching me something) that anyone who believes there is such a thing as the ‘mainstream’ media has already announced that their opinion is likely to be, umm, unusual. Not that I have any belief in the virtue of received wisdom – all too often it has been proven inaccurate (and hence my reliance on objective science), but the idea that any and all commonly available sources of information are tainted and only those whose ears have special knowledge dribbled into them are truly well-informed is suspect and somewhat cultish, n’est ce-pas?

  4. Most United States citizens would opt out of getting vaccines if they understood that natural foods, vitamins, herbs and supplements build up the immune system enough to fight off almost any disease known to mankind. For 70 plus years, the pharmaceutical industry (Big Pharma) has succeeded at its malicious money-making schemes, despite a well-documented history full of horrific lessons.

    This is all documented in a groundbreaking downloadablePDF report published by NaturalNews:

    In 2006, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) was signed into law by the Bush Administration, giving the U.S. Government the power to declare a “national emergency” for any infectious disease they claim is spreading and therefore require mandatory vaccinations for the entire population of the United States. In other words, U.S. citizens can now be denied their constitutional right of choice and be force-vaccinated or face jail time for being a “threat to national security,” all without trial, and without any legal representation. (

    Learn more:

    1. Pati, first of all, thank for taking the time to comment.
      As for foods etc building the immune system that is nonsense beyond the fact that we each need food to sustain us. The immune system isn’t like a muscle that can be exercised and the notion that it can be boosted or built up like a muscle is not just a simplification but utterly wrong. I ask you, with these foods and vitamins etc what part of the immune system is getting boosted? How? How does one tell? Trying to “boost” the immune system can have serious consequences as of many of the potions that claim to do so the few that have any effect at all stimulate an inflammatory response. This is not a boost!
      Seeing as you like your sources of information to come from the world of fiction (Natutal News and Infowars, for instance) why not sit back with some organic popcorn and enjoy the movie Contagion. The science in it is closer to reality than anything you’ll get on those websites and I’m sure some of the characters might even feel familiar to you.

    2. Pati.

      Wow! I’m certainly glad someone such as yourself isn’t responsible for making public health policy. May I suggest that you read and reread very carefully Lancelot Gobbo’s intelligent words to you. You are so far OFF on this issues it’s frightening.

      Also, just so you know. Anyone who uses and quotes Natural News and Infowars as their source for scientific information receives an automatic FAIL and shall be laughed right out of the room straightaway.

  5. Pati, I’m afraid you’ll win no arguments by quoting Natural News, a site devoted to fantasy and paranoia. As for pandemics, you should ask yourself how we would like our governments to act to protect us in the case of an extremely virulent infectious disease. Imagine a septicaemic plague like the Black Death (30%of Europe died), the sweating sickness of the 1500’s, the Great Plague of the 1600’s (20% of London died) or even the 1918 “Spanish” influenza which killed more people than the preceding four years of the first world war. I don’t think some fresh vegetables or natural yoghurt will do the trick, and when an infected person can pass it on to many others quickly, quarantine and vaccination become the only reasonable strategies. And I suspect you’ll be clamouring along with the rest of us for a dose of protection should we ever be unlucky enough to find ourselves in that situation.

  6. Pati…did you actually post this?

    “In 2006, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) was signed into law by the Bush Administration, giving the U.S. Government the power to declare a “national emergency” for any infectious disease they claim is spreading and therefore require mandatory vaccinations for the entire population of the United States. In other words, U.S. citizens can now be denied their constitutional right of choice and be force-vaccinated or face jail time for being a “threat to national security,” all without trial, and without any legal representation. (”

    What part of the U.S. Constitution mentions vaccinations, Pati?

  7. Parents should read the reviews of this book on Amazon, both pro and con, before they buy the book. This book completely dismisses the millions of children who have reacted to vaccines with autism, asthma, allergies, bowel disease, etc. My baby reacted to the hep-B shot at birth with four days and nights of endless screaming, vaccine-induced encephalitis, which the authors of this book dismiss as a moderate reaction which does no harm and usually does not need medical attention. They advise parents to give babies who suffer from vaccine reactions aspirin (which can cause fatal Reye’s syndrome).

    1. Oh poor, deluded Cia. Amazon reviews can be really helpful when deciding whether or not to purchase a product I do pay more heed, when choosing books, to those from reviewers who seem to have actually read it. Have you read it, Cia or have you just come shilling for Sears? Hey, this product has great reviews – perhaps you should get it

      1. The reviews at Amazon of this book have page numbers cited for the passages that support the points made. Children’s health deserves better than your snark.

    2. You keep posting that nonsense about your child’s vaccine-induced encephalitis…and I keep asking you the same questions, Parker:

      – Which doctor (pediatric neurologist/pediatric infectious diseases physician) told you that your child had “vaccine-induced-encephalitis”?

      -What treatment was provided to your child for this serious condition in a pediatric intensive care unit of a hospital?

      Here’s the Clinical Treatment Guidelines for treating encephalitis from the IDSA. for your perusal Parker.

      Click to access Encephalitis.pdf

      Didn’t you change your *story* yesterday on another autism blog about your child’s reaction to the hepatitis B vaccine? Instead of your diagnosis of “vaccine-induced-encephalitis”, you have re-diagnosed your child as having “Screaming Syndrome”.

      What exactly is “Screaming Syndrome” Parker? I never heard of that particular syndrome before…perhaps you would care to elaborate on your diagnosis of “Screaming Syndrome”…alternatively, you could link to website from a medical journal that describes “Screaming Syndrome”.

    3. Cia, like Lilady says, your anecdote about your infant doesn’t stack up.

      According to you, she screamed constantly for 4 days and nights following the vaccine, and was very unwell.

      Given that, may we ask, if you are a responsible and caring parent:
      1. Why did you not consult your doctor, health visitor, or take your newborn to the ER?

      2. Why did you diagnose your child’s problem yourself as “encephalitis”?

      3. Once you decided your child had encephalitis, you didn’t then take her to a doctor or the ER?

      We know from your narrative that you did none of these things. Enquiring minds wish to know why.

  8. Sears’ book is much better than this one. He at least realizes that vaccines can cause extremely damaging reactions, and takes parents’ reports and concern seriously. The authors of this book dismiss parents’ reports and says that they merely “claim” that vaccines damaged their children.

    1. Well, Cia, the vast majority of parents who claim their children have been ‘vaccine injured’ have no evidence to support that assertion. How can they possibly know for certain that vaccines were the cause of their child’s problems? If the child’s symptoms started after being vaccinated, how can they know whether or not those problems would have occurred regardless? How can they isolate vaccines as the cause?
      Without evidence, they are claims, not facts.
      It’s true that a very small number of children do suffer serious reactions to vaccines. But we need to weigh up risk vs benefit – and the risks to not vaccinating VASTLY outweigh the risks to vaccinating. Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective interventions that we have.

      1. Fortunately, none of the children who had measles in this outbreak died of measles, just like when I had it when I was six. It’s very rarely a serious disease in previously healthy, well-nourished people.

        And fortunately, Governor Brown added a coda to the California bill because so many thousands of Californians contacted him about being completely unwilling to vaccinate their children, and he added a religious exemption which was previously not available in California.

      2. Can’t find Lil #”s letter about screaming syndrome, the comments don’t have numbers. I posted several comments on the topic there this morning, you can probably find the answers to any serious questions you have about my daughter’s vaccine injury there.

        Pertussis causes an average of 10 deaths a year in the U.S., all of them newborns. Last year was an epidemic year, and there were twelve deaths as of October, again, all of them newborns. Newborns get no protection unti they’re older than four months from the pertussis vax, which often doesn’t work even then. Most of the people who had pertussis her last year had been appropriately vaxed, something like 85% of them. Dr. Schuchat admitted that the epidemic could in no way be blamed on the unvaxed. Statistically, 85% of the infants who died caught the disease from an unvaxed person. Quarantine at home is the only answer for protecting babies up to maybe six months old from the disease. My baby got the DTaP at 2, 4, and 6 months, caught pertussis anyway at 8 months, and gave it to me. But at our ages, it wasn’t likely to be dangerous and it wasn’t, though it was alarming and very wearing.

        Measles is very rarely dangerous in previously healthy, well-nourished people in the First World. Vitamin A and the avoidance of fever reducers like Tylenol further increase their chances of a mild case of measles and complete recovery. About one in two thousand dies. I cannot say if this number would be improved if people were taught to stay in bed throughout the illness and not take Tylenol. Homeopathic remedies, if correctly selected, will further improve the prognosis.

        Measles and whooping cough are the VPDs you’re mainly talking about here. I think the number of people disabled or killed by these diseases (or the others) is considerably smaller than the number disabled or killed by the vaccines.

        Of course you’re going to disagree with my conclusion. That’s fine. To each his own. Just don’t try to make me further damage myself or my child with vaccines: never again.

        Katy, autism didn’t exist before the 1930s, when mercury-containing diphtheria vaccines and fungicides started to be used. Read the book The Age of Autism for an excellent, fully-documented presentation of the issue.

      3. “Katy, autism didn’t exist before the 1930s, when mercury-containing diphtheria vaccines and fungicides started to be used.”

        By this reasoning schizophrenia didn’t exist before Bleuler first described it in 1911. Surely you can see the problem with that point of view?

      4. My baby screamed inconsolably for four days and nights starting four days after getting the hep-B vax at birth, prima facie evidence of encephalitis. She missed all her language milestones, but had started saying two words by 18 months, uh for up and uff for dog. Both words disappeared forever as soon as she got the DTaP booster at 18 months. She didn’t say anything else until 34 months. Was diagnosed with autism at 20 months.

        Sure, you can say maybe everything that happens in the world is just coincidence, there are no cause and effect relationships between anything, and we must rely on companies with billions of dollars at stake to tell us what to believe. You can say that maybe parents were just hallucinating when they say they saw their children talking and walking, since they clearly lost it all after the MMR (or other vaccines).Hannah Poling was chosen to be a typical peer in a preschool class for special needs program, to demonstrate with her precocious social skills what desired behavior looked like. Lost it all with the vaccine combo she got which caused her autism. Sure, preschool just delusional, parents just making it up to get millions from Vaccine Court. My baby never said uh when standing at the foot of the slide, never saw uff from her stroller when she saw a dog. Because it’s clearly impossible for a vaccine to wipe out words. (But Sonja Hintz in Vaccine Epidemic is equally delusional, her son Alex lost his words after a round of shots at 25 months.) You must think I am lying and my daughter continued developing language appropriately from that point, and certainly is not now in a special autism class at an elementary school. How I wish that were true.

        Everyone now knows people whose children were normal and regressed after vaccines. My daughter was not normal, was brain-damaged by the vaccine damage in the first week, but she was improving, and another vaccine knocked her back. You can say what you like, but dismissing the experience of hundreds of thousands of parents is not going to be possible much longer for you or anyone else. The Sacramento Bee last week had an article last week saying that in some Cal. counties, there are 70% of kindergartners taking a vaccine exemption. Try to put that genie back in the bottle.

  9. (Sorry, posted before I’d finished!)
    Of course it’s awful when children suffer serious reactions to vaccines. But many, many, many more children and adults would die or suffer serious illness were people to stop vaccinating.
    If you care about public health, if you want to stop more families from suffering and people dying, then vaccinating your child is a no-brainer.

  10. I think people like cia must occasionally Google “vaccines autism” when they are bored and dig up old threads like this one and have themselves some self-righteous entertainment. So pleased that they bother – it gives the rest of us some entertainment at the same time.

  11. Dr Bob Sears, eh?

    I had a dialogue with him when he blogged on the Huffington Post in a vain effort to defeat California Assembly Bill 2109. The bill was introduced in the California Assembly by Assemblyman Pan who is a pediatrician; it stipulated that parents would have to consult their childrens’ pediatrician to learn of the consequences of not vaccinating their children, before they chose to opt out of public school immunization requirements by claiming “personal belief exemptions”.

    I pointed out to Dr. Bob that his deliberately unvaccinated 7 year old patient was the “index patient” responsible for a huge measles outbreak in San Diego:

    Needless to state Dr. Bob was not too pleased with me, when I caught him in colossal lies about the circumstances surrounding the San Diego measles outbreak.

    P.S. The bill was passed, signed by the Governor and enacted into law.

  12. @ Parker:

    “Can’t find Lil #”s letter about screaming syndrome, the comments don’t have numbers. I posted several comments on the topic there this morning, you can probably find the answers to any serious questions you have about my daughter’s vaccine injury there.”

    I’m glad Autismum located the LB/RB blog for you….since you are having amnesia spells now. You’ve also posted additional comments on LB/RB about “France removing the hepatitis B vaccine from their immunization schedule” I also provided a link to the WHO that explains it was a temporary suspension when a few reports came through linking the vaccine with the onset on M.S. Following investigation, the proved no links between the vaccine and M.S. the vaccine was placed back on that schedule for infants and adolescents. Sorta like the bogus Wakefield *research* that resulted in lesser uptake of the MMR vaccine that has caused major outbreaks of measles in France and elsewhere in Europe.

    “My baby screamed inconsolably for four days and nights starting four days after getting the hep-B vax at birth, prima facie evidence of encephalitis.”

    No Parker, screaming and/or your *new diagnosis* of “Screaming Syndrome” is not “primie facie evidence of encephalitis”…but it could be *primie facie evidence* of your delusional state and your pathological lying.

    What other *theories* are you going to come up with now, Parker? You keep running up those same theories up the flagpole to see if they will fly….and they don’t.

  13. I was asked here just what screaming syndrome is. The following, from, includes a definition of screaming syndrome:

    From the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the late 80’s:

    The neurologic signs and symptoms of encephalopathy may be temporary with complete recovery or may result in various degrees of permanent impairment.

    Signs and symptoms such as high-pitched and unusual screaming, persistent inconsolable crying, and bulging fontanel are compatible with an encephalopathy, but in and of themselves are not conclusive evidence of encephalopathy. Encephalopathy usually can be documented by slow wave activity on an electroencephalogram.

    Today it reads:

    The following clinical features alone, or in combination, do not demonstrate an acute encephalopathy or a significant change in either mental status or level of consciousness as described above: Sleepiness, irritability (fussiness), high-pitched and unusual screaming, persistent inconsolable crying, and bulging fontanelle. Seizures in themselves are not sufficient to constitute a diagnosis of encephalopathy. In the absence of other evidence of an acute encephalopathy, seizures shall not be viewed as the first symptom or manifestation of the onset of an acute encephalopathy.

    FTR, they have put a name to this adverse reaction: Crying Syndrome or Screaming Syndrome.

    Now to put things into perspective — how many parents of the of the signficiant number children who have experienced this type of reaction are told to go to the emergency room in order to do the necessary testing for encephalitis?

    In just a ten year period (1991-2001), there were 10,000 reports of unusual crying and screaming syndrome. Just in this period alone. Couple that with the fact that just a tiny amount of vaccine adverse events are even reported . . .

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