Today our news tabloids explode with the reports of the controversy over vaccines. There is current research being done to determine whether vaccines cause things such as autism, but some argue that it does not matter because the benefit outweighs the risk. Currently research is being conducted to determine whether vaccines can lead to things such as autism. Any drug or vaccine has side effects, but once researchers work out the problems they are safe and effective. Today children receive vaccinations against diseases such as smallpox and polio because of previous epidemics.

Although polio was one of the most feared diseases, its rate of incidence was much lower than other deadly diseases in the early 1900’s.1. It has been suspected that polio was more feared than other diseases because of the lack of medical information on it and its abillity to cripple infants who became infected 2. Many different discoveries were made, but it took some time before the virus could be controlled. It was known, however, that polio is an intestinal virus that is spread by fecal waste, contaminated food or water, and unwashed hands 3. It usually produces a slight infection, though in some cases the virus attacked the brain stem and central nervous system which can cause paralysis.

  1. Wilson, Daniel J. “A Crippling Fear: Experiencing Polio in the Era of FDR.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 72, no. 3 (1998):262-265. http://muse.jhu.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/journals/bulletin_of_the_history_of_medicine/vo72/72.3wilson.html (accessed February 7, 2011)
  2. Blume, Stuart. “A Brief History of Polio Vaccines.” Science 288, no. 1593 (2000): 1593-1594.http://www.sciencemag.org/content/288/5471/1593.full (accessed February 9, 2011)
  3. Wellner, Karen L. “Polio and Historical Inquiry.” OAH Magazine of History 19, no. 5 (2005): 54-58. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/stable/pdfplus/25262982.pdf (accessed February 8, 2011)

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