Permalinks to this entry: individual page or in monthly context. For more material from my journal, visit my home page or the archive.
I am not a medical professional, but I do have a biology degree and have been paid to write about medical conferences, and I do think vaccines are one of the great achievements in the history of humankind. I understand the immunology and physiology of why they work, and think that they have probably prevented more disease and death than nearly any other development in healthcare, except perhaps the germ theory that told us why washing your hands is a good idea in the first place. My kids have been vaccinated against all the standard things, as well as chickenpox, and my entire family gets a flu shot every year.
There are skeptics of course, and those who fear the dangers of vaccines—who also, I think, both have no memory of the horrors of some of the diseases such as polio that they prevent, and also rely on others to be vaccinated to avoid exposure—have some legitimate concerns. This excellent article on vaccination (via Angela Gunn) treats the issue fairly, and has the added bonus of being from the university I graduated from.