The History of Vaccine Challenges: Conquering Diseases, Plagued by Controversy
As preventive measures taken to protect a well person from unseen harm, vaccines have always served as a source of anxiety and the subject of a certain degree of controversy. As the infectious diseases against which they are targeted have become increasingly rare, the recognition of vaccines’ usefulness has been blunted in the public mind. This phenomenon is not new. In fact, the history of vaccines has been laced with controversy—both from the public and, on occasion, even within the health profession. While rarely resulting in what could be considered true “vaccine phobia,” the intensity of concern that has a tendency to surround vaccines certainly requires awareness of the need for reassurance on the part of health professionals. While rates of serious side effects of licensed vaccines are vanishingly small, the tendency to associate vaccines of childhood with diseases of unknown etiology has laid the stage for public anxiety at a high level in recent years. The increased role played by both public and social media in this dynamic makes the challenge to health care professionals particularly acute, as the value of vaccines can only be fully realized if factors are recognized, acknowledged, and dealt with effectively.
KeywordsInfluenza Vaccine Pertussis Vaccine Whooping Cough Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System Smallpox Vaccine
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