APHA President Chris Chanyasulkit has encouraged APHA members to “read for health” over the past year, and there was no shortage of avid readers lining up to meet their favorite public health authors at the APHA Press book signing event at the 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo.

The event was held Sunday afternoon in the APHA Central area of the expo hall. Participating authors signed copies of their books and chatted with APHA 2023 attendees. 

Brent Ewig and Michael Fraser, authors of “Vaccinating America: The Inside Story Behind the Race to Save Lives and End a Pandemic,” said they set out to tell the story of how COVID-19 vaccinations came to be.

Brent Ewig and Michael FraserFraser was leading the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ response to the pandemic and contacted longtime colleague Ewig about writing a book.

“Despite all the other challenges, we wanted to make sure people knew what it took to get this vaccine out — at that point, hundreds of millions of doses out — faster than any other vaccine introduction in history,” Ewig said. “Most people remember where they were and how they felt when they got the vaccine for the first time, but they might not know what it took to get it from the factory and into their arms.”

According to Fraser, they thought focusing on the story of vaccines highlighted the positive aspects of the public health response. He said the vaccine being introduced “stopped the devastation” of having thousands of lives lost to COVID-19 every day. 

“We found out there were a lot of people who didn’t really understand what public health does,” Ewig said. “This was a way to tell that story. This book really helps counter that narrative that somehow public health failed.”

Kenya Hall was attending the Annual Meeting and the book signing event from Los Angeles. She was in line to meet former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, author of “Crisis and Chaos: Lessons from the Front Lines of the War Against COVID-19.”

Hall said she has read many other nonfiction books about COVID-19 and the response to it, and the topic fascinates her.

“I’m a nurse and a nurse practitioner, so I saw the tragedies at the forefront of the pandemic while working in the emergency room,” she said.

Eileen Zeiger, attending the conference from Milwaukee, said some of the public health topics she likes to read about most are related to maternal and child health. She also said she likes APHA Press books because the information is presented in a way that’s accessible and practical to the layperson.

“One of the things I love so much about APHA is that you can bring together all these different disciplines because these issues are so complex, and they’re all connected,” Zeiger said. 

For more events focused on books, check out Monday's AJPH Editor Meet and Greet and a discussion with the authors and editors of the Control of Communicable Diseases Manuals Trilogy, at noon, at booth 337–APHA Central.

Photo: Brent Ewig and Michael Fraser. Photo courtesy EZ Event Photography.