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04.16.2021

Vaccine Media Recommendations: Podcasts, Books, and Videos

Chances are your newsfeeds in 2021 are constantly filled with information about vaccines. For starters, the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic has people all over the world questioning how vaccines work. How are they made? Are they safe?

Vaccines Work clip art

Here at Shot@Life, we’re global health geeks who advocate for global immunization programs that save millions of lives each year. We get it: there are countless resources that explain the science behind vaccines, but not all of these resources are easy to digest. Whether you’re a longtime vaccine advocate, healthcare worker, or completely new to the topic, here are some of our favorite podcasts, books, and videos that can help you dive deeper into the world of vaccines–in a fun and compelling way!

Have recommendations that aren’t on this list? Send us your favorite podcast episode, book, or documentary about vaccines at media@shotatlife.org. This list will be continuously updated. 

Vaccine Podcasts

The Antigen Podcast Photo

1. The Antigen Podcast

If Pfizer wasn’t already a household name before the COVID-19 pandemic, it definitely is now. In their podcast series, The Antigen Podcast, learn about the scientific, cultural, and political elements of vaccination from the experts at Pfizer themselves. Episodes range from about 20-40 minutes long, and cover both the history of vaccine innovation, as well as talk to real families whose lives have been impacted by vaccine-preventable diseases. Season 1 even features Shot@Life’s Executive Director, Martha Rebour, who discusses global vaccine access! Those who want to dive straight into COVID-19 can start at season two, which gives listeners a look behind the curtain of Pfizer’s role in vaccine development and discusses what life after the crisis looks like.

Sabin Vaccine Institute Podcast Photo

2. Sabin Immunization Advocates’ Community Conversations on Vaccines Podcast

The Sabin Vaccine Institute developed Immunization Advocates to address vaccine misinformation. It does this by connecting journalists with health experts to help them report accurately on immunization. Their Community Conversations on Vaccines Podcast includes interviews with on-the-ground health workers and journalists in different communities. The 20-30 minute episodes explore topics such as vaccine demand and acceptance, plus issues related to vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

Bloomgerg Podcast Photo

3. Bloomberg’s Prognosis: Doubt

The Prognosis: Doubt podcast from Bloomberg looks at the forces that have been breaking down trust in vaccines, which were previously seen as a standard part of staying healthy and safe. What happened in the past few decades that have led to this heightened anti-vaccine sentiment?

The 40-50 minute episodes cover topics such as vaccine protests after the 2015 Disneyland measles outbreak and current COVID-19 vaccine skeptics. The series traces the rise of vaccine skepticism in America to show how we got here — and where we’re going.

4. WHO’s Science in 5

People have a lot of questions about vaccines, especially the rapidly developed COVID-19 ones. In World Health Organization’s (WHO) Science in 5, experts explain the science behind them. The short weekly episodes, also found on YouTube, cover subjects such as herd immunity, vaccine approvals, and variants.

Vaccines Podcast Episodes

5. Radiolab – The Great Vaccinator

Meet Maurice Hilleman, who created 9 out of 14 vaccines for children, including the mumps vaccine – the fastest ever developed, prior to the COVID-19 vaccine! Radiolab’s 45-minute The Great Vaccinator episode celebrates the health hero who is credited with saving an estimated 8 million lives every year.

6. Vox Today Explained vaccine episodes

a. Vaccine hoarding

Poorer countries have received less than 1 percent of the COVID-19 vaccines distributed around the world. In the 19-minute Vaccine hoarding episode, Vox’s Julia Belluz explains what WHO is calling a “catastrophic moral failure.”

b. Your COVID-19 vaccine questions, answered

Your COVID-19 vaccine questions, answered features a helpful Q&A on vaccines with Vox science reporter Umair Irfan. The 34-minute episode dives into the most popular questions from podcast listeners, including the odds of getting COVID-19 between doses, the long-term effects of COVID-19 vaccines, if it’s possible to spread COVID-19 after being vaccinated, and if booster shots will be needed in the future. This is a great resource to share with people in your life who have similar questions!

c. What if developing a vaccine is the easy part?

What happens when it’s time to distribute new vaccines that have been developed? In 19 minutes, What if developing a vaccine is the easy part explains the challenges with distributing COVID-19 vaccines once they were approved by the FDA.

7. NBC News: ‎Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes- Vaccines: How Do They Work? with Dr. Peter Hotez

What happens in your body after you get a vaccine? The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines feels like the first positive mile marker in the pandemic but people have a lot of questions – How were they developed? How do they work? Is there anything we should worry about? Tune into the hour-long episode Vaccines: How Do They Work? with Dr. Peter Hotez to learn more.

Vaccine Books

8. “Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All” by Paul Offit

(Amazon)

Summary: “Infectious disease expert Paul Offit takes a look behind the curtain of the anti-vaccine movement. He finds a reminder of the power of scientific knowledge, and the harm we risk if we ignore it.”

9. “Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases” by Paul Offit 

(Amazon)

This book dives into the story of Maurice Hilleman, who is considered the “father of modern vaccines.” He developed more than 40 vaccines, including ones that eradicated common childhood diseases. Paul A. Offit, a vaccine researcher himself, befriended Maurice and interviewed him extensively about his life and career during the last few months of his life.

10. “Stuck: How Vaccine Rumors Start and Why They Don’t Go Away” by Heidi Larson 

(Amazon)

There have been many rumors about vaccines floating around for decades. This book examines how the issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy are, more than anything, about people feeling left out of the conversation. It goes on to discuss different types of vaccine hesitancy and the social factors that keep them around.

11. “Do Vaccines Cause That?! A Guide for Evaluating Vaccine Safety Concerns” by Martin G Myers and Diego Pineda

(Amazon)

Do vaccines cause autism, asthma, or diabetes? Get straight, science-based answers to questions about the safety of vaccines. This is a great read for anyone who has concerns about vaccines.

12. “Vaccines and Your Child” by Paul Offit and Charlotte A Moser 

(JSTOR) (Amazon)

In this book, Paul A. Offit and Charlotte A. Moser answer questions about the science and safety of modern vaccines. They talk about how vaccines work, how they are made, and how they are tested. It also separates the real risks of vaccines from those that have no basis.

13. “Poverty and the Impact of COVID-19: The Blue-Marble Health Approach” by Peter Hotez

(Project Muse)

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected poorer communities. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, provides an essential look at the global issue of health and poverty through the lens of COVID-19. He introduces the idea of “blue marble health,” which asserts that poor people living in wealthy countries account for most of the world’s poverty-related illness. This is a great, timely read for anyone interested in the impacts of COVID-19 on global health.

14. “Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-Science” by Peter Hotez

(Johns Hopkins University Press)

How will the world use science and cooperation to prevent another pandemic after COVID-19? Dr. Peter Hotez argues that we can—and must—rely on vaccine diplomacy to address this new world order in disease and global health. He reinforces the need for public communication around the urgent need to embracing science during troubled times.

15. “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Plague in History” by John M. Barry 

(Amazon)

Want to learn more about the 1918 flu pandemic? This book provides extensive information about one of the worst pandemics in history. Barry places the pandemic against the background of American history (WWI) and within the context of the history of medicine.

Vaccine Movies & Videos

16. Breathe

The 2-hour romance/drama film tells the story of British polio survivor Robin Cavendish, played by Andrew Garfield, who contracted the disease in Kenya in 1958. It is available on Hulu and Amazon Prime.

17. Middle Ground on YouTube

Middle Ground consists of conversations where people are usually extremely divided. Watch the 14-minute Pro-Vaccine vs Anti-Vaccine: Should Your Kids Get Vaccinated? discussion between groups of people who are pro- and anti-vaccine.

  • Maya Punjwani Headshot
  • Maya Punjwani is the Communications Associate for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. Prior to this position, she was a Global Health Communications intern at the UN Foundation and advance staff for Biden for President. Maya previously interned at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Correspondence and the personal office of Barack and Michelle Obama. She...