The History of Vaccines

Vaccines have been a topic of debate for quite some time, and the debate really heated up during the recent pandemic. What was once regarded as an invention that saved lives and civilizations is now regarded as a method of control, harmful substances, and many other things. To that end, let’s see how the vaccine was invented, implemented in the past, and why there is so much doubt regarding the latest vaccines. 

First Immunization

Our ability to boost our immune system is hundreds of years old. One Buddhist monk discovered that by taking smaller doses of snake venom, he can boost immunity against that same poison. However, the official founder of vaccinology is Edward Janner, who immunized a young boy against the cowpox virus and managed to demonstrate how vaccines work against smallpox. In 1798 the very first vaccine against smallpox was developed and one year later it was implemented on a massive scale. 

In the late 19th century Louis Pasteur started to develop a cholera vaccine, and a vaccine for the plague was also invented around the same time. In the years between 1890 and 1950 vaccines for bacterial infections started to emerge and at that time we also got the Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin vaccine which is the same one we use today. Finally, at the end of the 20th century, we even got a polio vaccine known as Salk, and another called Sabin which was taken orally. 

Why Did We Start to Doubt the Vaccines? 

Although this invention was used to eliminate smallpox, measles, mumps, and lots of other medical problems, the new vaccines have a lot of doubts. It started in the 21st century when people began to believe there is a link between autism and vaccination. The reason is that the number of autism diagnoses has increased, and even though we can’t tell for sure what causes autism, we got better at providing a more accurate diagnosis of autism. So, the increase was likely to do with the improvement in the diagnostic field, but since there were no explanations people were left to fill in the gaps on their own. 

Whenever we need to connect dots, notice patterns,  come up with explanations, or accept available explanations, we rely on cognitive bias. Basically, if it makes sense to us we are likely to accept it as truth. Since autism is noticed at an early age, which is the exact same time when we receive most of the shots, it was easy for people to believe in a theory that vaccines cause autism and that these new shots are not to be trusted. Ironically, this only proved the efficacy of vaccines, as some of the diseases that were nearly eradicated began to return.