The following history of vaccine resources may be of additional interest. Most of the content mentioned below is available freely to all online. Want to contribute a new resource to this list? Send us an email.
The History of Vaccines: An award-winning website that provides in-depth information on the development, use, and delivery of vaccines within a historical context. Much of the content is taken from the collections of the College’s Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library.
Coronavirus Timeline: This is a timeline of the pandemic with a focus on which decisions were made and when. This timeline is produced as a public service by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia's Philadelphia Pandemic Preparedness Project. Therefore, special attention is focused on Philadelphia-related developments.
Minna Stern, A., Markel, H. The History Of Vaccines And Immunization: Familiar Patterns, New Challenges. Health Affairs Journal. May/June 2005. FULL TEXT ONLINE.
Plotkin S. (2014). History of vaccination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(34), 12283–12287. FULL TEXT ONLINE.
Professors Are Crowdsourcing a #CoronavirusSyllabus. Here’s the History They Think Should Be Used to Teach This Moment; Time Magazine. March 27, 2020.
Vaccine Podcast Series:
This Podcast Will Kill You: Erin Welsh and Erin Allman Updyke are epidemiologists with a knack for explaining complicated concepts in simple terms. Each episode includes disease science and history, first-hand accounts and a themed cocktail recipe called a “quarantini.”
Hit Me With Your Best (Polio) Shot: This episode explains polio, explores the long history of the disease and delves into the development of polio vaccines, including the origins of the oral polio vaccine developed by the late Dr. Albert B. Sabin.
Measles: The Worst Souvenir: Did you know measles could wipe out your immune system’s memory of other viruses it has encountered in the past? Unravel measles mysteries with this engaging episode, which was released while cases continued to soar in the United States in 2019.
Influenza Will Kill You: So important that it was their first episode ever, this one is a great primer about all things influenza. The bottom line? We should be really scared of the flu.
Endless Thread: Four-part series on Vaccination (WBUR): A four-part series on vaccine innovation, hysteria and the spread of disinformation.
Episode 1: “Scabs, Pus and Puritans”. The problem with being healthy is you completely forget about what it feels like to be sick. In 2019 many people assume that the history of vaccination is recent history--maybe a few centuries of innovation starting in the late 1700s. The truth is much more convoluted: centuries of ancient customs developing slowly into a cycle of extremes--scientific innovation followed by fear, rejection, and sometimes, violence. In the first episode of our series, we explore this recurring cycle and how it echoes still in the fact-challenged year of 2019.
Episode 2: “The Flintstone Dilemma”. There was a time when the measles were common enough to be a source of comedy on TV shows like The Flintstones. So how did we go from joking about the measles to scary reports on the news about a growing international measles emergency? Anti-vaxxers say it’s a scam, while scientists say it’s the anti-vaxxers. In the second episode of our series, we embark on a search for truth, aided by renowned pediatrician Dr. Paul Offit and prominent anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree. Along the way, we look at how vaccines actually work, fallout from the swine flu pandemic, and the highly controversial suspected link between vaccines and autism.
Episode 3: “Going Viral”. You can’t tell the story of today’s anti-vax--or “vaccine hesitant”--movement without telling a story of technology and social media. There have always been members of populations who distrust medicine, but the word-of-mouth spread of that distrust has been brought to a fever pitch by the internet. Online, these communities have only become more insular, self-sustaining, and potent. But here’s a question: even if vaccines have saved millions around the world, can we really blame people whose families have suffered great loss for seeing causation instead of correlation? In the third episode of our series we look at the impact the internet has had on vaccine -hesitant communities, and hear from some of the community’s most well-known voices as well as the people who study the galvanizing power of the internet.
Episode 4: "Anatomy of an Outbreak”. Even considering the winding road of scientific advancement and the new expressway that is the internet, what the heck happened in Clark County? With reporting from the ground in Washington and Oregon, we take our fourth episode of the series to trace the societal pathogens, identify the symptoms, and try to prescribe a solution to what some are calling a “canary in the coal mine” for a near future of eroding herd immunity and increasing threats of outbreak for all kinds of diseases in the U.S.
Episode 5: “Talk to Me”. At the end of the day, our species only survives if we can communicate. In our fifth and final episode of the series, we follow a group whose radically simple solution for the current controversy has already started to pay dividends. We also tell the stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably altered by the vaccination controversy, and why some of them are still sticking to their guns.
Historic Context of Pandemics:
Colonialism and Empire:
Pandemic, Creating a Usable Past: Epidemic History, COVID-19, and the Future of Health, May 8-9, 2020: In the face of COVID-19, historians of public health, nursing, and medicine come together to reflect on past epidemics and their implications for how we confront today’s unfolding crisis. With history as our guide, this forum of epidemic experts explores how people and societies in former eras responded to pandemic challenges. What perspective does their experience offer for the present? What guidance does the past provide for the future of public health, health care, and public policy? This series of lectures, broken up into seven recordings, is available to watch for free online. A list of recommended reading is also provided. Sponsored by the American Association for the History of Medicine with support from Princeton University, Department of History.