History of Vaccines Blog


March 23, 2010  Anonymous

Were you a polio pioneer, or are you related to someone who was? We’re looking for people who participated in the groundbreaking trial for Jonas Salk’s killed-virus polio vaccine in 1954. We’d love to talk with you about your experience. We’re also hoping to get photograph of a Polio Pioneer card, a card given to children for participating in the first national tests of a trial polio vaccine conducted during 1954. (For reference, see a photograph of a Polio Pioneer card on the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s excellent web exhibit on the history of polio vaccine development.) Email us at vaccines@collegeofphysicians.org to let us know about your experiences as a Polio Pioneer. Read More...

Posted in: Polio

March 19, 2010  Anonymous

The Historical Medical Library at The College of Physicians is full of fascinating items, and we’ve run across many of them while developing the History of Vaccines website. One such item is a pamphlet written by Benjamin Franklin and an English doctor, outlining American and English experiences with inoculation against smallpox. This process, also called variolation, involved transferring some matter from a smallpox sore on a person with a mild case of the disease into a cut or scratch on the body of a healthy person. The usually mild local reaction would most often protect the inoculated person from contracting smallpox. As you may have learned from our smallpox timeline, Franklin lost his four-year-old son to smallpox in 1736. He became an advocate of inoculation, arguing that although it was not without risk, it was far safer than natural infection. In 1759, Franklin asked a friend, London physician William Heberden, to write a pamphlet outlining the process of inoculation, so that anyone could learn how to perform the operation. Franklin then wrote an introduction for the pamphlet, stating that Heberden paid for printing “a very large impression” of the pamphlet to be distributed for free in America. A copy of the pamphlet “Some Account Of the Success of Inoculation for the Small-Pox in England and America together with Plain Instructions, By which any Person may be enabled to perform the Operation, and conduct the Patient through the Distemper,” is in the Historical Medical Library. Read More...

Posted in: Historical Medical Library, Smallpox

March 15, 2010  Anonymous

In late February 2009, the Advisory Committee for Immunization Policies (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded its guidelines on who should take the seasonal influenza vaccination in the 2010-2011 flu season. ACIP advises, and CDC will likely recommend, that all adults should receive the seasonal flu vaccine. In previous years, healthy adults ages 19-49 with no underlying risk factors were not recommended to receive the vaccine. Now all people 6 months and older are recommended to be vaccinated for seasonal influenza. Read More...

Posted in: Influenza