Professor Ian Frazer

Professor Ian Frazer

Professor Ian Frazer is president of Cancer Council Australia, the Chairman of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s Medical Research Advisory Committee and advises the World Health Organisation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on papillomavirus vaccines. He won the 2005 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.

Vaccines are arguably the single most effective public health intervention after clean water, in terms of global reduction in disease burden.  How well do they work, and what can we do to encourage their more effective use? Which new vaccines are we likely to develop, and why are vaccines against some diseases so hard to produce?  Are concerns about vaccine safety realistic, and what should we do about them? Professor Frazer talks through these issues and more in this detailed talk given late last year at Embiggen Books.


Ian Frazer at Embiggen Books from Embiggen Books on Vimeo.

There’s currently not very many accessible to the general public books on vaccination. Most have become out of print in recent years. The following books we have found useful and informative. The book Vaccine by Arthur Allen focusses mostly on the socio-political history, and Autism’s False Prophets by Paul Offit predominantly on the recent socio-political issues that arose due to the unsupported findings of a fraudulent science paper that first claimed a link between vaccines and autism. Both books provide a good overall look at what vaccines are and how they work in the process of examining the surrounding issues. I should also make it clear that Prof. Frazer has no link whatsoever to these books or to Embiggen Books other than he was gracious enough to deliver a most enlightening talk at our premises to a group who attended free of charge.

Vaccine by Arthur Allen
Vaccine by Arthur Allen

Vaccines are one of the most important and controversial achievements in public health. Washington-based journalist Allen explores in depth this dark horse of medicine from the first instances of doctors saving patients from smallpox by infecting them with it to the current controversy over vaccinating preteen girls against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. One thing becomes very clear: fear of vaccination is not a recent problem. In the 20th century, the triumphs of the Salk polio vaccine and the eradication of smallpox may actually have led to current antivaccination movements: “as infectious diseases disappeared, in part thanks to vaccines, the risks of vaccination itself were thrown into relief.

“This is a well-researched portrayal of immunisation, from the earliest pioneers to an arm of preventive medicine now thoroughly entangled in politics, commerce and public relations.”
New Scientist

Autism's False Prophets by Offit
Autism's False Prophets by Offit

In this book, Paul A. Offit, a US expert on vaccines, challenges the modern-day false prophets who have so egregiously misled the public and exposes the opportunism of the lawyers, journalists, celebrities, and politicians who support them

“Arguably the most detailed and thorough history available of the current anti-vaccine movement.” – Roy Richard Grinker, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

“A very helpful book for both medical personnel and parents.” – The New England Journal of Medicine

“[A] must-read… it will keep pediatricians and pediatric neurologists awake over the nightmarish possibilities of pseudoscience in the 21st century.” – Roger A. Brumback, M.D., Journal of Child Neurol

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