It’s that time of year again. The leaves are a-changing, there is a crispness in the air, and you’re finding it impossible to NOT purchase Halloween candy that you will inevitably eat and have to buy again anyway. Oh, and your local pharmacy, Facebook feed, tv, magazines, and just about any other media outlet are reminding you to go get your flu shot.
10 fun facts about vaccines:
The words vaccine and vaccination come from the Latin word for cow, vacca, because Edward Jenner used cowpox virus to prevent smallpox infection in the late 1700s. Interestingly, new research suggests that horsepox virus might have also been used, thankfully not leading to the term horination.
The history of vaccination dates back long before the term for it, evidence has been identified in Chinese writings as far back as 1000 CE.
We need a flu shot every year because our immune cells have poor memory of it and because flu changes from year-to-year. Apparently the flu is like your neighbors’ kids on Halloween–you know they’re wearing a new costume, but you can’t recall what they were last year anyway.
You can get the flu even if you get the vaccine, but it’s likely to be a much milder infection.
You cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
Louis Pasteur infected (and killed) many chickens trying to make a cholera vaccine until he discovered his bacterial strain would grow in chicken bouillon broth. Mmmm, chicken cholera vaccine soup (that is not how it was administered, FYI).
A recent study linking the flu shot during pregnancy to miscarriage was rife with flaws. You can read more about it here: The Pregnancy Scare that Should have Never Been
Most people have never heard of Maurice Hilleman, but they should. Hilleman is the modern father of vaccines and is responsible for preventing more infectious diseases than anyone else in history. We can thank Hilleman for protecting us against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, pneumococcus, meningococcus, and Haemophilus influenzae type B.
Over the past year, there have been more than 12,000 cases of measles and 35 deaths in Europe due to decreasing rates of MMR vaccination. The United States isn’t immune either–see what I did there?
The World Heath Organization (WHO) recently announced another vaccine milestone–the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus in the Americas, a disease that used to kill 10,000 newborns each year. Go vaccines!
For more information, check out History of Vaccines, and don’t forget to get your flu shot!