Humanity has benefited from vaccines for more than two centuries. Yet the pathway to effective vaccines has been neither neat nor direct. Howard Markel, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, explores the history of vaccines and immunization, beginning with Edward Jenner's creation of the world's first vaccine for smallpox in the 1790s.
Markel dives into the many issues salient in Jenner's era, such as the need for secure funding mechanisms, streamlined manufacturing and safety concerns, and deep-seated public fears of inoculating agents, and how those have frequently reappeared and have often dominated vaccine policies up to the modern day. He suggests that understanding this historical significance may help inform viable long-term solutions to contemporary problems with vaccine research, production, and supplies.
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