We celebrate National Immunization Awareness Month every August. One of the few benefits of the pandemic is that we are more knowledgeable about vaccines development, licensure and how they work. Unfortunately, we are also learning about the danger of vaccine hesitancy and refusal.

Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new. You are probably familiar with the story of the father of vaccinology, Edward Jenner. During the 1790s he demonstrated that vaccinating with relatively harmless cowpox prevented deadly smallpox. His vaccine, one of the most outstanding public health accomplishments of all time, was met with fear, protests and rejection. As scary as smallpox was, many found vaccination more frightening. Some argued that it was wrong to stop a disease God created.

Vaccine Smarts is written by Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences faculty members Drs. Megan Berman, an associate professor of internal medicine, and Richard Rupp, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch. For questions about vaccines, email vaccine.smarts@utmb.edu.

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