Saturday, April 16, 2011
April 16, 1897
Dr. J.H. Huddleston,
Health Department, Criminal Court Building,
New York, N.Y.
Referring to your letter of the 14th instant, to the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, asking whether trial of vaccine virus sent on March 28th, had been made, if you have any suspicion or evidence that the efficacy of the virus has been impaired, please inform me at once, as I am about to make a trial of this virus on small children during the coming week.
Very truly yours,
Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
[Historian of medicine Bert Hansen has written on the early days of vaccination in NYC, and tells me this is probably a cowpox cultivated in calves and used to immunize people against smallpox. Reed had written to the Health Department a week earlier asking about the failure after several months of two samples of bovine vaccine he had made himself. Here’s two relevant photographs - http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=cowpox&w=99129398%40N00 One further note – by the end of the nineteenth century, it was known that something smaller than bacteria could cause disease, but the first actual virus was isolated by Martinus Willem Beijerinck in 1898; hence the terminology used in this letter is imprecise to modern readers.]
Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1903
Centre, Elm, White & Franklin Streets,.
(Criminal Court Building)
Office of the Pathologist, and Director of the Bacteriological Laboratory.
New York, Jan 4th, 1897
Walter Reed, M.D.,
Curator U.S. Army Museum,
7th and B. Streets S.W.,
Your communication of the 28th ult. To Dr. H.M. Biggs has been received, and he has requested me to reply to the same. With reference to the statement made on the printed directions accompanying the package of vaccine virus sent you on Dec. 24th, I would say that this label was prepared at a time when the keeping quality of the vaccine virus produced by this Department had not yet been fully ascertained. As a matter of fact, we find that the virus preserves its potency unchanged for fully six months; not only does it not deteriorate in strength during this period, but its quality with regard to the number of bacteria present is improved. We have found it impossible to produce a virus absolutely free from bacteria, although we are able to assure the absence of pathogenic organisms. The bacteria originally present in the virus diminish as time goes on, and the age of the virus is, therefore, an important factor with relation to the number of bacteria contained.
Alfred L. Beebe
Asst. Director, Diagnosis Bacteriological Laboratory
Friday, December 31, 2010
December 31, 1896
Dr. Bailey K. Ashford,
Dear Dr. Ashford:
Dr. Adams has kindly consented to allow me to vaccinate a few children in your hospital, but requested me to consult you as to time, etc. I would be under many obligations if you could place at my disposal on Monday afternoon, at about 2 p.m., four children, two of these to be vaccinated hypodermically with glycerinated lymph, and the remaining two in the ordinary way, as controls. If this is agreeable to you please telephone on Monday morning.
Very sincerely yours,
Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
April 6, 5
Dr. E.T. Duke,
Secretary of Health Board,
I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the receipt at the Army Medical Museum to-day, of a " vaccination scab protector " designed by you, and to thank you for this interesting addition to the Museum collection.
The specimen has been placed in the Miscellaneous Section and numbered 1975.
Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Friday, February 5, 2010
February 5, 1873
Dr. H.A. Martin
My dear doctor: Yours of the 3rd has just reached me. The diptheritic cast reaches us safely, has been placed in the medical section, and is fully appreciated. Dr. Otis having written, I supposed had acknowledged this as well as the cast of the plastic operation. Let me assure you the omission did not arise from want of appreciation. Many thanks for the additional vaccine vesicle. Those you previously sent are undergoing the hardening process and will soon be ready to make sections. I am sanguine of interesting results, and will write you how we get along. A full set of the section will be reserved for you.
The catalogue of the Library, first edition, is out of print; only three hundred and fifty copies were printed. Dr. Billings is now at work on a second edition which will contain about twice as many titles as the first. Your name has been put down for a copy of the first part of the medical history of the war now in the hands of the binder.
I learned last evening that a little boy who was staying with the Shermans, when I vaccinated them last, and who left immediately after took nicely. I had intended to write you that Mrs. Sherman’s arm was quite sore after the last vaccination but presented nothing characteristic. On the whole I hardly think it worth while to re-vaccinate them again, regarding them as “protected,” especially as I used the method you described. If, however, you think it worthwhile, I will urge them to try once more.
Sincerely your friend,
Friday, March 21, 2008
"Vaccine Failure Is Setback in AIDS Fight: Test Subjects May Have Been Put at Extra Risk Of Contracting HIV" by David Brown, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, March 21, 2008; Page A01 talks about the bitter conclusion.
"This is on the same level of catastrophe as the Challenger disaster" that destroyed a NASA space shuttle, said Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, and head of the Institute for Human Virology in Baltimore.
This seems to put off a prevention of AIDS for the foreseeable future, meaning that millions especially in Third World countries will continue to die:
"None of the products currently in the pipeline has any reasonable chance of being effective in field trials," Ronald C. Desrosiers, a molecular geneticist at Harvard University, declared last month at an AIDS conference in Boston. "We simply do not know at the present time how to design a vaccine that will be effective against HIV."
Meanwhile, theoretically well-educated people refuse to vaccinate their children in the US - read "Public Health Risk Seen as Parents Reject Vaccines," By JENNIFER STEINHAUER, New York Times March 21, 2008.
Let's pull out some quotes from this article:
SAN DIEGO — In a highly unusual outbreak of measles here last month, 12 children fell ill; nine of them had not been inoculated against the virus because their parents objected, and the other three were too young to receive vaccines.
Now, let's see what the Centers for Disease Control says about measles - "How serious is the disease? Measles itself is unpleasant, but the complications are dangerous. Six to 20 percent of the people who get the disease will get an ear infection, diarrhea, or even pneumonia. One out of 1000 people with measles will develop inflammation of the brain, and about one out of 1000 will die."
Hmmm. Let's see what a parent in the article has to say:
“I refuse to sacrifice my children for the greater good,” said Sybil Carlson, whose 6-year-old son goes to school with several of the children hit by the measles outbreak here. The boy is immunized against some diseases but not measles, Ms. Carlson said, while his 3-year-old brother has had just one shot, protecting him against meningitis. “When I began to read about vaccines and how they work,” she said, “I saw medical studies, not given to use by the mainstream media, connecting them with neurological disorders, asthma and immunology.”
Nice. So she's willing to risk her children to a 1 in 1000 risk of death because of something she read that the mainstream media (and the FDA and CDC) refuse to believe. So far, nobody has been able to prove that vaccination increases the risk of autism, which is what most people who fear vaccination seem to be most concerned about.
“The very success of immunizations has turned out to be an Achilles’ heel,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. “Most of these parents have never seen measles, and don’t realize it could be a bad disease so they turn their concerns to unfounded risks. They do not perceive risk of the disease but perceive risk of the vaccine.”
So what happens to herd immunity, or the phenomena in which even if an individual's vaccination doesn't take, one's protected by the fact that a virus can't infect anyone around him?
There is substantial evidence that communities with pools of unvaccinated clusters risk infecting a broad community that includes people who have been inoculated. For instance, in a 2006 mumps outbreak in Iowa that infected 219 people, the majority of those sickened had been vaccinated. In a 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana, there were 34 cases, including six people who had been vaccinated. Here in California, six pertussis outbreaks infected 24 people in 2007; only 2 of 24 were documented as having been appropriately immunized. A surveillance program in the mid ’90s in Canada of infants and preschoolers found that cases of Hib fell to between 8 and 10 cases a year from 550 a year after a vaccine program was begun, and roughly half of those cases were among children whose vaccine failed.
The current John Adams miniseries on HBO shows the lengths that Abigail Adams was willing to go to inoculate her children. Here's some pictures of smallpox, which was the first disease prevented by vaccination to show why she, and George Washington who vaccinated the Continental Army, went to such lengths.
Woman with smallpox with vaccinated infant (the opposite of the situation in the NY Times article in which the parent is protected, but the child is not).