Tonight’s PBS Special Makes The Most Powerful Argument For Vaccines Yet

A new NOVA special, “Vaccines: Calling the Shots,” stands up for science.

Courtesy of Genepool Productions

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Tonight, PBS’s NOVA will air a strongly pro-vaccine special, called “Vaccines: Calling the Shots.” If you care about science, it’s something you should watch.

The program focuses on our faulty risk perceptions around vaccines, how many people are vastly more scared than they ought to be of a tiny risk (vaccination) while ignoring a huge one, the return of deadly diseases. The consequence could not be more grave: In a scene that is just hard to watch, the program shows a tiny infant suffering from whooping cough, its mother weeping, nurses running in constantly to sit the baby up (he cannot even raise himself) so that he does not choke. It’s heartbreaking.

Here’s a preview:

Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that “Vaccines” makes a powerful case for immunization. It lays out the overwhelming science demonstrating the safety of vaccines and also shows you how the immune system works and why conditions like autism likely have a genetic and early developmental explanation, rather than being caused by vaccine “injury.”

Unfortunately, it also shows that again and again in history, after a disease (like smallpox) is beaten back by vaccinations and medical science, people who are no longer threatened by the real danger then start to worry about the inoculation itself.

And now, we’re doing it again.

(You can watch “Vaccines: Calling the Shots” tonight at 9 pm EDT.)

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest