History of Vaccines Blog


Vaccines in the Time of War

March 27, 2019

You’ve probably heard about biological warfare. That is when a group or government uses a biological agent to make their enemy too sick to fight. In Colonial America, the British government used blankets contaminated with smallpox to try and decimate Native American communities with the disease.

Study: "Belief in Conspiracy Theories Associated with Vaccine Skepticism"

March 21, 2019

The American Psychological Association has released a study which found evidence that belief in anti-vaccine conspiracies is associated with belief in other conspiracy theories. According to the press release:

Quarantines and Their Mixed Results

March 14, 2019

Before the development of vaccines against deadly diseases like smallpox, typhoid fever and measles, public health authorities relied heavily on quarantines in order to stop epidemics from spreading. The concept was simple: keep sick people away from the healthy people. Unfortunately, there were plenty of times where quarantines were broken and the epidemics allowed to continue. Then there were the times when the people suspected of being sick or being carriers of the disease found ways around the quarantines or other orders by public health authorities.

Vitamin A and Measles

March 12, 2019

Back in the 1970s, Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS, began working on community interventions in Indonesia where children who were deficient in vitamin A were given a supplement to help stave off vision problems. At the time, the evidence was clear that vitamin A played an important role in vision, especially night vision.

Video: "A Very Short History of Vaccines in America," from PBS

March 10, 2019

Frontline from PBS published a short video on YouTube about the history of mass immunization in the United States. General George Washington ordered his troops to be inoculated against smallpox, even forcing some of them to get the inoculation (variolation). This assured that the Continental Army would remain smallpox-free at a time when the disease was causing a lot of disease and death, and leading to the defeat of the British troops during the War for Independence.

Jacobson and the Contemporary Jurisprudence

March 7, 2019

In this blog post, Dorit Reiss, PhD, continues her discussion of the Jacobson v. Massachusetts case from 1905 in which the Court upheld the authority of state governments to enforce laws that require their citizens to be immunized. In this second part, Dr. Reiss discusses jurisprudence (decisions by the Court) from the time, noting the similarity and differences between some of the arguments on the different cases.

What the Supreme Court Has Said About Mandating Vaccines for School: Jacobson v. Massachusetts

March 5, 2019

State and local governments in the United States have mandated immunizations as a prerequisite for attending public schools for quite some time. The Supreme Court has heard several challenges to these mandates and has consistently ruled the mandates to be constitutional. In this blog post, Dorit Reiss, PhD, discusses the Jacobson v. Massachusetts case from 1905 in which the Court upheld the authority of state governments to enforce laws that require their citizens to be immunized. Dr.

Congressional Hearings on Vaccine-Preventable Disease Outbreaks and Anti-Vaccine Sentiment

March 4, 2019

Two weeks ago, Representative Adam Schiff sent a letter to Facebook and Google asking for more action on anti-vaccine misinformation being shared through their platforms. In response, Facebook pledged to alter their algorithms so that anti-vaccine information was not immediately shown when searching for information on vaccines. For its part, Google announced that anti-vaccine videos on YouTube — it’s video-hosting service — would not be able to make money from advertising.

Remembering Adel Mahmoud, MD, PhD

March 2, 2019

A group of friends and colleagues of Adel Mahmoud, MD, PhD (1941-1918) gathered at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia on February 27, 2019, to remember Dr. Mahmoud’s legacy. He was remembered as a colleague who would have great discussions and debates with his peers on issues related to science in general and immunizations in particular.