In 1998 a medical furor broke out when The
Lancet published an article by Andrew Wakefield questioning the benefits of the
MMR vaccination which was being given unquestioningly to children throughout
Coming 202 years after the first vaccination by Edward Jenner, which led to the
eradication of smallpox throughout the world, this recent incident is only the
latest in a long history of questioning the benefits of vaccination.
From early irrational fears born of outdated medical understanding through to the
latest medical research and findings, Professor Williams traces the history of
the anti-vaccination movement and its long tail, reviewing the social settings
in which the fears were found and offering a balanced assessment of vaccination
as we find it today.
Professor Gareth Williams is the Chair of the Jenner Trust. He qualified with Honours in Medicine and Pharmacology from Cambridge University in 1977 and trained in London and Geneva. He was Professor of Medicine in Liverpool, where he built up an internationally
recognized research group in diabetes and obesity and then Dean of Medicine in
Bristol, where he remains as Professor of Medicine and Lead for European
Relations in the Faculty. He has written 200 scientific papers and has authored
or edited over 20 books, including the prize-winning Textbook of Diabetes. In 2009, he wrote Angel of Death: the Story of Smallpox, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Wellcome Trust Book Prize. Williams is a former President of the Anglo-French Medical Society and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Angers. His hobbies include playing music and writing fiction.