Dr. Paul Offit on COVID vaccines and the history of medical advances

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A health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Most of our most significant medical breakthroughs and lifesaving therapies have had messy, often gruesome beginnings. Dr. PAUL OFFIT, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and member of the FDA’s COVID Vaccine advisory panel, highlights this history in his new book, You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation. Offit details the development of transplants, blood transfusions, anesthesia, vaccines, X-rays, chemotherapy, and genetic engineering to demonstrate that medical advances are rarely risk-free. We’ll talk to Offit about this history and the tradeoffs but first we’ll ask him about the COVID pandemic, the question of vaccine boosters, and where we stand on vaccines for children.

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