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Bravo: Mark Zuckerberg’s Book Club Goes To Bat For Vaccination

For his next reading challenge pick, Zuckerberg announced a much-lauded pro-vaccination book.

Bravo: Mark Zuckerberg’s Book Club Goes To Bat For Vaccination
[Photo: Flickr user Carlos Reusser Monsalvez]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come out swinging in support of vaccination–and he wants his book club members to read all about it. Undaunted by the lukewarm reception to his first few picks, Zuckerberg is continuing with his public new year’s resolution to read a new book every two weeks with a fourth choice, On Immunity: An Inoculation, by essayist Eula Biss.

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The book club, called “A Year of Books,” has had growing pains, including a dismally attended Facebook Q&A with the first book’s author, who was asked many questions from folks who hadn’t read the book, the Washington Post reported. It seems Zuckerberg has learned a few things about picking a book that will engage, but not overwhelm, readers: On Immunity is short, sweet, is recommended by plenty of health professionals, and fits within Zuckerberg’s stated goal to educate his book club followers in economics, psychology, and sociology.

Zuckerberg’s choice is a well-timed shot at the anti-vaccination movement, a vocal group of parents and activists who ignore established research demonstrating that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism. The anti-vaccine campaign is certainly responsible for at least some of the 8,960 deaths from preventable diseases in the U.S. since the movement gained popularity in 2007. In On Immunity, author Biss takes a sympathetic look at parents’ concerns by exploring her own vaccine anxiety after the birth of her child. The book describes how immunizations have affected the world, historically and today, says publisher Graywolf Press.

Predictably, the announcement of On Immunity in a Facebook post Wednesday was met with strong emotions. Zuckerberg responded to some commenters, defending his choice by saying: “I was trying to find a book that would both explain people’s fears and explain the actual science. A number of people I highly respect recommended this book, so I think this is a good one to read and share.”

If you want to snag a copy of the book, act fast: So far, the books chosen for the group get a definite “Zuckerberg Bump” and sales skyrocket. The first book, Moises Naim’s The End Of Power, doubled its sales the weekend after Zuckerberg announced it as the first selection on his book list back in January, The New York Times reported.

More than 366,000 Facebook users have subscribed to the “Year of Books” page. Here’s hoping that the selection of On Immunity sparks broader, better-informed conversation about the importance of vaccinations, as Zuck benignly intends.

[via The Guardian ]

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