Tag: History of Vaccines

Hedda Get Bedda Doll and Other Measles Stories

Hedda Get Bedda originally came with a hospital bed.
The Hedda Get Bedda doll originally came with a hospital bed.

In the early 1960s, the American Character Doll Company produced a series of Whimsie dolls, including:

  • Annie the Astronut
  • Fanny the Flapper
  • Hilda the Hillbilly
  • Lena the Cleaner (baseball)
  • Samson the Strongman
  • Simon the Degree
  • Wheeler the Dealer (casino dealer)
  • Zero the Hero

Hardly politically correct for our times, the stereotyped dolls do provide a look at the history of their time.

One other doll, Hedda Get Bedda, is especially helpful in that sense.

Made in 1961, this Whimsie doll could change her face, letting you know how she was feeling when you turned the knob on her head. She could go from having a sleeping face, to a sick face (perhaps having chicken pox or measles), to a happy face (once you made her better).

Does the fact that she also came with a hospital bed mean anything?

Just like some anti-vaccine folks like to think that the simple fact that they made a doll that had measles or chicken pox could possibly mean that they looked at them as mild diseases, you could just as easily say that including the hospital bed means ‘they’ understand they were life-threatening diseases that could put land you in the hospital.

We are talking about the pre-vaccine era after all, and in 1961, and when the Hedda Get Bedda doll came out, there were about 503,282 cases of measles in the United States and 432 measles deaths.

Like the Brady Bunch measles episode, the Hedda Get Bedda doll is sometimes used to push the myth that vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that serious, helping folks justify their decisions to intentionally skip or delay vaccines and leaving their kids unprotected.

“…for those trained in pediatrics in the 1970s, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was a horror.”

Walter Orenstein, MD

For example, if you believed that measles, chicken pox, or Hib were mild diseases, then you might feel better about not getting your child the MMR, chicken pox, or Hib vaccines.

Sure, many people get measles and do get better without any complications. On their way to getting better though, even they have high, hard to control fever for 5 to 7 days, with coughing and extreme irritability.

But while most get better, we shouldn’t forget that some people don’t survive measles without complications. Natural immunity sometimes comes with a price, from vision problems and permanent hearing loss to brain damage.

And tragically, some people don’t get to survive measles.

Get Educated. Get Vaccinated.

For More Information and Measles Stories

US Presidents and Vaccines

You would think that getting kids vaccinated and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases would be a non-partisan issue, but it unfortunately isn’t always the case.

donald-trump

Even before Donald Trump brought up false claims that vaccines cause autism, we have seen what can happen when funding for vaccines dropped. Federal support for vaccines dropped while Reagan was in office and we quickly saw outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, including many deaths.

Fortunately, most American Presidents have strongly supported vaccines.

There is no longer any reason why American children should suffer from polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, or tetanus. … I am asking the American people to join in a nationwide vaccination program to stamp out these four diseases.

JFK in 1962

  • George Washington – had smallpox and later mandated that every soldier in the Continental Army had to be inoculated against smallpox
  • John Adams – was innoculated against smallpox (before Jenner‘s vaccine was available), as were his wife and children
  • Thomas Jefferson – conducted his own smallpox vaccine trials
  • James Madison – signed the Vaccine Act of 1813 – An Act to encourage Vaccination.
  • James K Polk – died of cholera, a now vaccine-preventable disease, three months after his term ended
  • Zachary Taylor – died of cholera while still in office
  • Abraham Lincoln – developed smallpox while he was in office
  • Franklin D Roosevelt – had polio and founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which was later renamed the March of Dimes, and helped fund Jonas Salk‘s research on the first polio vaccine
  • Harry S Truman – had diphtheria as a child, which may have left him with vision problems, and was vaccinated against smallpox
  • Dwight D Eisenhower – signed the Polio Vaccination Assistance Act in 1955, which gave $30 million in federal grants to states to cover the costs of planning and conducting polio vaccination programs, including purchasing polio vaccine
  • John F Kennedy – signed the Vaccination Assistance Act in 1962 (Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act), which started as a three year program to help get kids vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, but it has been continuously reauthorized ever since
  • Lyndon B Johnson – established a legacy of US leadership in global immunization by funding the CDC Smallpox Eradication program in 1965 (smallpox wasn’t eradicated until 1980)
  • Richard Nixon – observed that scientists who helped develop the polio vaccine with Jonas Salk “deserve far greater respect and support by the people whom they serve than they now receive.”
  • Gerald Ford – instituted a swine flu vaccination program for an outbreak that never appeared
  • Jimmy Carter – his National Childhood Immunization Initiative in 1977 reached its goal of immunizing 90% of children
  • Ronald Reagan – signed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, which created VAERS and the NVICP, while federal support for vaccine programs reached a low point in his years in office, as rates of children living in poverty and without health insurance increased
  • George HW Bush – his immunization action plan in 1991 once again raised immunization rates following three years of measles outbreaks
  • Bill Clinton – his Childhood Immunization Initiative in 1993 which included signing the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Act, provided free vaccines to many children
  • George W Bush – announced a major smallpox vaccination program in 2002, but very few healthcare workers actually volunteered to get vaccinated
  • Barack Obama – declared the 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreak a national emergency, Obamacare requires health insurance plans to pay for vaccines without co-pays, made the Ebola outbreak a national security priority, and helped keep funding for Zika vaccine research going

What can we expect our next President to do about vaccines and vaccination rates?

For More Information on US Presidents and Vaccines:

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Founding Fathers on Vaccines

The Founding Fathers presenting a draft of the Declaration of Independence.
The Founding Fathers presenting a draft of the Declaration of Independence. By John Trumbull – US Capitol

What did the Founding Fathers think about vaccines?

While some folks like to claim that the Founding Fathers would have been against vaccines, most experts think that claim is nonsense.

What we know is that the seven key Founding Fathers, which include:

  • John Adams – was innoculated against smallpox (before Jenner‘s vaccine was available), as were his wife and children
  • Benjamin Franklin – was vaccinated and regretted not vaccinating his own son, who died of smallpox
  • Alexander Hamilton – supported George Washington’s plan to inoculate the Continental Army against smallpox
  • John Jay – having a brother and sister that were both blinded by natural smallpox infections, you would expect that he would be in favor of vaccinations and he did indeed inoculate his own children Maria, Nancy and Sally Jay against smallpox
  • Thomas Jefferson – conducted his own smallpox vaccine trials
  • James Madison – signed the Vaccine Act of 1813 – An Act to encourage Vaccination.
  • George Washington – had smallpox and later mandated that every soldier in the Continental Army had to be inoculated against smallpox

Without speculating on what they would have thought of today’s immunization schedules and anti-vaccine movements, it is safe to say that they supported the use of the vaccines that were available to them at the time to protect themselves and their families.

For More Information on the Founding Fathers and Vaccines:

Contaminated Vaccines

comvax
Hib and Comvax vaccines were recalled in 2007 over concerns about bacterial contamination.

Tragically, vaccines can sometimes become contaminated with substances that can get kids sick.

In addition to the Cutter Incident, in which live polio virus contaminated the inactivated polio vaccines, problems with contaminated vaccines include:

  • two children in Chiapas, Mexico who died after getting vaccines that were contaminated with bacteria
  • hepatitis-contaminated yellow fever vaccines during WWII
  • tetanus contaminated smallpox vaccine in the 1890s and early 20th century

Other findings of contamination have not led to any problems, such as:

Still, that has not stopped some from scaring many people about the idea of contaminated vaccines – from misinformation about glyphospate in vaccines to conspiracy theories of a polio vaccine cancer cover up and hidden ingredients that contaminate vaccines.

Worries about contamination should certainly not keep you from vaccinating your kids though.

The most recent episode, in Chiapas,  was because of local conditions in a remote village in Mexico. It had nothing to do with how the vaccine was produced.

In 2007, it is reported that “routine testing identified B. cereus in the vaccine manufacturing process equipment, but not in individual vaccine lots.” Although the vaccines were quickly recalled, no one got sick.

Other cases, like when tetanus or hepatitis contaminated some vaccines, while tragic, was long before the latest safeguard from the FDA were put in place.

Vaccines are very safe from contamination.

For More Information on Contaminated Vaccines:

Historical Immunization Schedules

Technically, the first official immunization schedule that was approved by the ACIP, AAP, and AAFP – a harmonized immunization schedule, just like we have today – was published in 1995.

Past Immunization Schedules

Of course, there were immunization schedules before that, including these immunization schedules that were published by the AAP in 1983, 1989, and 1994:

schedule1983s
Eleven doses of four vaccines protected kids against seven vaccine-preventable diseases in 1983.

The Hib vaccine was added in 1985.

schedule1989s
Twelve doses of five vaccines protected kids against eight vaccine-preventable diseases in 1989.

Next came the hepatitis B vaccine and expanded age ranges for the Hib vaccine.

schedule1994s
Seventeen doses of five vaccines protected kids against eight vaccine-preventable diseases in 1989 (plus the later Td booster).

What’s still missing?

Vaccines and protection against rotavirus, hepatitis A, chicken pox, flu, pneumococcal bacteria, meningococcal bacteria, and HPV.

Even Older Immunization Schedules

While the anti-vaccine movement often claims that kids now get too many vaccines (the too many too soon argument), not understanding that they get far fewer antigens than they once did, with far more protection, most of them will be surprised that some children got even more immunizations that the 1980s schedules they long for.

schedule1940s
A schedule of immunizations from a 1948 AAP Round Table Discussion on the Practical and Immunological Aspects of Pediatric Immunizations

So in the 1940s, some children received:

  • 3 doses of the pertussis vaccine
  • 2 doses of the smallpox vaccine
  • 3 doses of the typhoid vaccine
  • 3 doses of a DT vaccine
  • a DPT booster
  • a tetanus booster
  • a typhoid booster
  • 2 pertussis boosters

Some children also received a flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine.

With reference to the influence viral vaccine we have endeavored to give it those children who have repeated, frequent, severe upper respiratory tract infection.

Dr. Francis A Garbade – Galveston, Texas 1948

And in 1938, the AAP’s Special Committee on Prophylactic Procedures  Against  Communicable Diseases published a pamphlet,  Routine measures for the prophylaxis of communicable diseases, which became the first Red Book.

Among its recommendations were vaccines to protect against seven infections, including:

  • diphtheria
  • pertussis
  • rabies
  • tetanus
  • tuberculosis
  • typhoid fever
  • small pox

It also mentions vaccines for erysipelas, scarlet fever, staphylococcal infections and chicken pox.

The bottom line is that many kids got a lot more vaccines in the old days than many parents realize or remember.

For More Information on Historical Immunization Schedules:

 

References on Historical Immunization Schedules
Offit, Paul A. Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System? Pediatrics. Vol. 109 No. 1 January 1, 2002 pp. 124-129
Pickering, Larry K. The Red Book Through the Ages. Pediatrics. November 2013, VOLUME 132 / ISSUE 5
Sako, Wallace. Practical and Immunolgic Aspects of Pediatric Immunizations. Pediatrics. 1948;2;722.

History of Vaccine Manufacturers

Currently, the main manufacturers of vaccines used in the United States include:

  1. Emergent Biosolutions – Anthrax vaccine
  2. GSK Vaccines – Bexsero, Boostrix, Cervarix, Energix-B, Fluarix, Havrix, Hiberix, Infanrix, Kinrix, Menveo, Pediarix, Rabavert, Rotarix
  3. Mass Biologics (Massachusetts Public Health Biological Laboratories) – made the first DTP vaccine and continues making a generic Td vaccine
  4. MedImmune (owned by AstraZenaca) – FluMist
  5. Merck – Gardasil, MMR-II, PedvaxHIB, Pneumovax23, ProQuad, Recombivax HB, RotaTeq, Vaqta, Varivax, Zostavax
  6. PaxVax – Vivotif typhoid vaccine
  7. Pfizer – Prevnar, Trumenba
  8. Protein Sciences Corporation – Flublok
  9. Sanofi Pasteur – Adacel, Daptacel, Fluzone, Imovax Rabies, Pentacel, IPOL, Pentacel, Menactra, YF-Vax,
  10. Seqirus – Afluria, Fluad, Flucelvax, Fluvirin
  11. Valneva – Japanese encephalitis vaccine (IXIARO), Dukoral cholera vaccine

Of course, there used to be many more.

During the past fifty years, companies devoted solely or primarily to manufacturing vaccines (such as Lederle and Praxis) have been acquired by other pharmaceutical companies; the number of companies making vaccines has decreased from twenty-six in 1967 to seventeen in 1980 and to five in 2004 (GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Merck, Wyeth, and Chiron).

Paul Offit, MD

And then there were four…

21st Century Vaccine Industry Changes

Unlike changes in the 1970s, the latest changes in the vaccine industry and among vaccine manufacturers don’t have a lot to do with companies being forced out of business because of lawsuits.

Mergers and consolidation seem to be fueling the changes.

For example, Novartis, recently considered one of the top five pharmaceutical corporations that make vaccines, sold off its vaccine business to CSL Limited and GSK.

CSL Limited then formed Seqirus to produce their flu vaccines.

In other changes:

  • Pfizer acquired Wyeth in 2008
  • Chiron Corp became Novartis Vaccines in 2006
  • Aventis Pasteur and Sanofi merged to become Sanofi Pasteur in 2004
  • SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome merged to become GlaxoSmithKline in 2000

But you don’t really get how big these mergers are until you understand that:

  • Pasteur Merieux and Aventis merged to become Aventis Pasteur in 1999
  • Wyeth acquired Lederle Laboratories/Praxis in 1994
  • Lederle Laboratories and Praxis  merged in 1989
  • Connaught Laboratories was purchased by the French Merieux Institute, forming Pasteur Merieux in 1989

Still other vaccine manufacturers simply stopped making vaccines.

Older Vaccine Manufacturers

What ever happened to these vaccine manufacturers?

eli-lilly-vaccine
Eli Lilly used to make a Small Pox vaccine
  • Bionetics Research Inc.
  • Cutter Laboratories – made anthrax vaccine and the Salk polio vaccine that was involved in the Cutter incident. Was bought by Bayer in 1974, but they no longer make vaccines.
  • Dow Chemical (Pitman-Moore) – got out of the vaccine business in 1977-78 and stopped making 12 vaccines
  • Eli Lilly – got out of the vaccine business in 1976 and stopped making 14 vaccines
  • Evans Medical Ltd.
  • Mich (Michigan Department of Public Health) – once made 8 vaccines
  • Miles Inc. – exited the vaccine market in 1970 and stopped making 11 vaccines
  • North American Vaccine, Inc. – was purchased by Baxter International Inc. in 2000, a company that sold off its remaining vaccine business in 2000, including vaccines for meningitis C and tick borne encephalitis. North American Vaccine, Inc. once sold a DTaP vaccine – Certiva.
  • Organon Teknika Corporation
  • Parke-Davis – purchased by Warner-Lampert in 1970, but had sold off their flu vaccine division as King Pharmaceuticals, stopping production of 16 other vaccines. King Pharmaceuticals later changed its name to Parkdale Pharmaceuticals and stopped making vaccines in 2002.
  • Richardson-Merrill – got out of the vaccine business in 1976-78 and stopped making 14 vaccines
  • Sclavo
  • Solvay Pharmaceuticals – purchased by Abbott Laboratories in 2010, but Solvay’s flu vaccine business was sold off and their Influvac vaccine is no longer used in the United States
  • Squibb & Sons – now known as Bristol-Myers Squibb, since their 1989 merger, Squibb used to make vaccines, including Maurice Hilleman‘s first Japanese B encephalitis vaccine
  • Texas Department of Health Resources – exited the vaccine market in 1979 and stopped making 7 vaccines
  • University of Illinois – once made the BCG vaccine

Unlike other companies that merged or had their vaccine business sold off, these companies and their vaccines are gone. And some, like Bionetics Research Inc. and Organon Teknika Corporation were acquired by the same companies (ABL). They just don’t make vaccines anymore.

For More Information on Vaccine Manufacturers:

References on Vaccine Manufacturers:The Children’s Vaccine Initiative: Achieving the Vision. Historical Record of Vaccine Product License Holders in the United States
Pereira,Nuno Sousa. Vaccine Supply: Effects of Regulation and Competition. International Journal of the Economics of Business 18(2):239-271.October 2010

Faith Tabernacle Congregation church

The Faith Tabernacle Congregation church and their church run school were part of a large measles outbreak in Philadelphia, in which the church saw 486 cases of measles and 6 deaths among their members.

And this wasn’t in the 1940s or 50s, before we had a measles vaccine.

This happened in 1991.

There were other measles cases and deaths in the city and nationwide that year. In fact, between 1989 to 1991, there were 55,622 cases and 123 deaths in the United States, a big increase that was blamed on falling immunization rates.

What was different about the Faith Tabernacle Congregation church outbreak was that all of the children were unvaccinated and, as a faith-healing church, they refused medical care even once they got measles.

Health officials eventually had to get a court order to force the parents in the congregation to vaccinate their children.

Ultimately, only nine children from church got vaccinated though.

For More Information On The Faith Tabernacle Congregation: