UH Med Now
Vaccine Fear: Current (and terribly unwise), but not new
Date: February 12th, 2019 in JABSOM News
Dr. Robert Gaynes, Infectious Disease Specialist. Tina Shelton photo.
ByTina Shelton, JABSOM Communications Director
He reminded those in attendance that Edward Jenner, the creator of the world’s first vaccine (against smallpox) was not without harsh critics in his lifetime.
In 1798, Jenner self-published his findings that cowpox could shield humans from smallpox, one of the greatest perils of the age. Jenner had submitted his research a year earlier to the Royal Society only to have it rejected.
His discovery became one of the greatest contributions in the history of medicine. The vaccine. The word itself, Gaynes reminded us, was derived from the Latin words for cow and virus.
“You would think this (discovery).. would be met with great rejoicing and … in some places it was,” said Gaynes. “I found a letter from Thomas Jefferson,” he said, going on to read a portion:
“Medicine has never before produced any single improvement of such utility. You have erased from the calendar of human affliction one of its greatest. Yours is the comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived,” wrote Thomas Jefferson.
But history shows Jefferson was right about Jenner. By the 1880’s smallpox virtually disappeared in England.
About The Hans and Ilza Veith Annual Lectureship in the History of Medicine at JABSOM in Memory of Charles Judd, Jr.
Ilza married Hans von Valentini Veith on October 20, 1935. They were married until his death on March 9, 1991. Ilza was the author of many books and articles on the history of medicine, including her major work of the translation of the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine first published in 1949. Ilza received many honors over the years for her outstanding achievements in the history of medicine, including an honorary doctor of medicine degree from Juntendo University in Japan.