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smallpox



  • The Long History of Vaccine Mandates

    by Lindsay M. Chervinsky

    President Biden's recent call for mandatory vaccination for federal workers follows the precedent set by George Washington's order to inoculate the Continental Army for smallpox.


  • Paying People to Get Vaccines is an Old Idea Whose Time has Come Again

    by Margaret DeLacy

    John Haygarth devised a system for rewarding working-class residents of Chester for receiving the risky smallpox inoculation and maintaining social distance afterward. The effort was largely superseded by the more effective and safer Jenner vaccination, but was a foundational public health experiment that pays dividends today.


  • Remembering the Father of Vaccination

    by Richard Gunderman

    "Whether or not Jenner truly saved more lives than any other person, there is no doubt that his pioneering work on immunization laid the groundwork for today’s most effective tool against COVID-19, the vaccine."



  • Last Week Tonight: The World Health Organization

    The weekly comedy-investigative program includes an assessment of the World Health Organization's past work eradicating disease in the developing world and the Trump administration's attacks on the agency (includes some vulgar language and jokes).


  • Mourning in America

    by Ed Simon

    Historically the powerful have described deaths from disease and starvation as "natural" to hide the political nature of suffering and their own responsibility. To mourn is to fight this erasure.



  • George Washington Would Have So Worn a Mask

    by Maurizio Valsana

    The genre “What would X do?” – where X stands for a noted figure in history, say Jesus or Dolly Parton – is silly. And yet, as a scholar writing a new biography of George Washington, I can’t help making a bold declaration: The Father of His Country would wear his mask in public.



  • The Epidemics America Got Wrong

    by Jim Downs

    Government inaction or delay have shaped the course of many infectious disease outbreaks in our country, argues history professor Jim Downs.



  • The Shortages May Be Worse Than the Disease

    by Elise A. Mitchell

    Societies further their own destruction whenever they fail to provide anyone health care, housing, or dispensation from work because of their employment, socioeconomic, or immigration status.



  • North America’s forgotten plague

    A LEAN FIGURE cast in bronze kneels beside a child, a tiny lancet in his hand poised to strike at the girl’s left shoulder. Another patient waits her turn, upper arm revealed. The memorial, outside the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, celebrates the global conquest of smallpox in 1980, a milestone that belongs on any list of reasons to be cheerful: Variola major gorged on our species for thousands of years, blazing a trail of hideous pustules that disfigured victims’ bodies and faces and wiped out communities. Children and the elderly were especially vulnerable, and those not felled by the disease were sometimes blinded by it.The Geneva memorial honours the physician as warrior in the eradication of smallpox. On a Pfizer campus in Pennsylvania, a twin statue tells a different story, positioning Big Pharma as the hero. Neither monument, however, recalls the many casualties of smallpox, and this says a great deal about what we choose to remember.One of the last major outbreaks in Canada began in the spring of 1862 when a ship from San Francisco arrived in Victoria and patient zero stepped ashore. Throughout the summer and autumn, smallpox raced north and east, up the coast and inland through canyons of tightly packed settlements that were perfectly suited to its appetite....