History of vaccines

Published on May 28, 2015   54 min

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Hello. My name is Dr. Stanley Plotkin. I am emeritus professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, and the senior editor of the Vaccines textbook. And I am going to talk to you today about the history of vaccines, which now goes back many centuries, in fact.
So on my next slide, you have some sources of information concerning the history of vaccines, divided according to whether they're brief, medium size, or long. The brief example is a chapter, the first chapter from the Vaccines textbook by my wife and myself. The medium examples are basically two books. One listed is titled, Vaccines, A Biography, edited by Artenstein. And I also have a book which is titled History of Vaccine Development, which is available from Springer. The long history of vaccines is a wonderful book by Herve Bazin, which is published both in French and in English, and tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the history of vaccines.
The history of vaccination goes back a long way. However, the effect of vaccination is beyond question. As we said in the first edition of the Vaccines textbook, published in 1988, "The impact of vaccination on the health of the world's peoples is hard to exaggerate. With the exception of safe water, no other modality has had such a major effect on mortality reduction and population growth." And that quotation, I think, is indisputable. It has been repeated often in other publications, usually without attribution, but nevertheless it's a universal truth. The beginning of vaccination goes back hundreds of years, in a sense, because it began, I think, because of the efforts of kings and other important people to resist poisoning by taking small amounts of common poisons to build up resistance. And so the idea of using a small amount of something pathogenic to protect against the major effect of a pathogen became a common belief.