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, 24 (3), 611-21

The History of Vaccines and Immunization: Familiar Patterns, New Challenges


The History of Vaccines and Immunization: Familiar Patterns, New Challenges

Alexandra Minna Stern et al. Health Aff (Millwood).


Human beings have benefited from vaccines for more than two centuries. Yet the pathway to effective vaccines has been neither neat nor direct. This paper explores the history of vaccines and immunization, beginning with Edward Jenner's creation of the world's first vaccine for smallpox in the 1790s. We then demonstrate that many of the 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-have frequently reappeared and have often dominated vaccine policies. We suggest that historical awareness can help inform viable long-term solutions to contemporary problems with vaccine research, production, and supply.

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