But few likely now that we have had rabies vaccines since 1885, a flu vaccine since 1945, or that the last case of wild polio in the United States was in 1979.
“It is hard to fully appreciate how vaccines have revolutionized modern medicine. The long schedule of vaccines may seem like a hassle, and rumors about harmful effects unnerve parents. But, the fact is, vaccines have helped save millions and millions of lives. Just a few generations ago, people lived under the constant threat of deadly infectious diseases, like smallpox, polio, and hepatitis.
Let’s look at the greatest infectious scourges of the past 1,000 years and how vaccines have mitigated or even eradicated the danger.”
Public Health Understanding Vaccines
From historical safety concerns, like the Cutter Incident in 1955 or the withdrawal of the first rotavirus vaccine in 1999, to improvements in vaccine safety and the control, elimination, and eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases, understanding the history of vaccines can help you understand how important vaccines really are to us all.
Smallpox was officially declared to have been eradicated in December 1979.
Not eliminated. Not eradicated in the United States. It was eradicated.
When was the last case of smallpox?
The last wild case occurred in 1977, in Somalia. Another case occurred in 1978, but that followed a lab accident in Birmingham, England.
We still have stocks of the smallpox virus in at least two secure laboratories and with the risk that smallpox can be used as a biological weapon, we still have a smallpox vaccine.
It isn’t for just anyone though.
The live, attenuated smallpox vaccine made vaccinia virus, ACAM2000, is given as a single dose to those who are at high risk for getting smallpox.
The latest version of the smallpox vaccine was licensed in 2007 and replaced Dryvax, the previous vaccine.
The routine civilian production and distribution of a smallpox vaccine ended in 1983. We had already stopped routinely vaccinating people long before that though. Routine smallpox vaccinated, which was typically given when children were about 12 months old, ended in 1972 in the United States.
Adenovirus is a very common if not well known viral infection.
It can cause cold like symptoms, a sore throat, pink eye, diarrhea, and fever, etc.
An adenovirus vaccine is available, but is only given to enlisted soldiers during basic training. A live vaccine that protects against adenovirus types 4 and 7, the vaccine helps to prevent adenovirus outbreaks among military personnel.
Although people usually think in terms of live vs inactivated vaccines, there are actually many other types of vaccines, including those made up of subunits of a virus or bacterial antigen, toxoid vaccines, conjugate vaccines, DNA vaccines, and recombinant vector vaccines.
Unlike those other vaccine types, live vaccines included a weakened version of a virus or bacteria.