ER doctor says timing for new novel about dangers of vaccine hesitancy was 'lucky'
VANCOUVER -- An ER doctor and best-selling author says his new book about vaccine hesitancy is a cautionary tale that’s relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new fictional thriller, "Lost Immunity," is set in Seattle amid an outbreak of a “dreaded strain” of meningitis, and centres on the challenges of a public health officer, who tries to convince people to get vaccinated, but whose own family is against vaccines.
In the story, the disease targets older children, killing some within hours. But, a new and unproven vaccine, could be the city’s only hope.
“When a few people die after receiving this experimental vaccine, Lisa (the public health officer) suspects that sabotage, not science, is to blame but will she uncover a trojan horse before it’s too late,” says author and St. Paul’s Hospital department head Daniel Kalla.
Kalla says he had initially finished writing the book on the same day in 2019 that he heard the early whispers of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had no idea how relevant it would become in 2021. I finished it on the very day that I heard about this new virus emerging from Wuhan in China, that would turn out to be COVID,” he said.
The pandemic ended up being cause for some rewrites, he said.
“I was able to include lessons learned from the COVID experience and set it in a post-COVID world,” he said.
The book explores the views of those who are for and against vaccines, he said.
“I wanted to portray both sides of the coin, I wanted the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine to be portrayed fairly, but I think there’s scientifically only one side that’s debatable: Vaccines are the answer,” he said.
“And never has that been more important than during COVID when we’re trying to achieve herd immunity and protect the population,” he said.
The fact that the book, which demystifies and debunks myths around vaccines, is being released at a time when people are starting to get vaccinated for COVID-19, is sheer luck, he says.
“I am always trying to be cutting edge about medical issues when I write, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this timely,” he said.
“I also don’t think I’ve ever had a more important message to convey. Really, this story highlights the dangers of what can happen when hysteria and misinformation comes into play and vaccine hesitancy takes hold.”