Today is the first day! This week there are two videos to watch, one on introducing the course and one on the history of vaccines and viruses.
In the introducing the course video Offit discusses three reasons to except yourself from vaccination: medical reasons, personal philosophy, and religious exemptions. He briefly explains each of these types of exceptions. Not in a very neutral way but what do you want. Among other things he explains that when Christian Scientists were established it was taught that they shouldn't vaccinate against small pox because they didn't believe it was a disease but a mental state. I thought that was interesting.
He also explains that the two states that don't have religious exceptions don't have them because they're supreme courts have ruled they violate equal protection. In other words, just because the parent is religious doesn't mean the child shouldn't be protected.
In the history of vaccines he divides it up into eras. The first is the whole animal era, starting with Jenner and the small pox vaccine. He discusses how Jenner noticed that every couple of years small pox would sweep the country side and leaving 1 in 3 people who got it dead and the rest disfigured or blind. But he noticed that women who milked cows didn't get small pox. He postulated that the blisters they got on their hands and wrists from milk and cows protected them from small pox, somehow. So he took some blisters from a milk maid and used them to infect a boy with cowpox (he injected him with fluid from the blisters). He then goes into a long talk about variolation which was really interesting. Basically you take a dried up crust from someone with small pox and you either inject it into someone or have them inject it. It did protect people from small pox, but it also sometimes killed people. Jenner vaccinated people with cowpox and then variolated them and saw that the reaction to the variolation was much less than normal and postulated that therefor the person was protected.
Still in the whole animal era we then have the rabies vaccine. The rabies vaccine was developed by infecting rabbits with rabies, then drying out their spinal cords and injecting people with them (we now know that the process killed the virus). He then took a little boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog and gave the boy immunity. The problem was that when you inject a person with nervous tissue it contains myelin, and it causes the body to produce an immune response to myelin which causes seizures and encephalopathy in around .4% of people. This was considered to be not so bad since it was a vaccine that was only given post exposure, and exposure to rabies was basically 100% deadly.
Still in the whole animal area comes the Polio vaccine and the 1930's. There were several attempts to create a polio vaccine in the 30's using monkeys. One group took monkeys, inoculated them with polio, then made a slurry (they skipped the details of that process, thank goodness) and used a soap of ricinoleate to kill the virus. Another group did a same thing but used formaldehyde. Problem was the slurries protected the virus, so the people who got the vaccine ended up getting polio and several died. That was a miserable failure and basically ended polio vaccine research for awhile.
That was all so far!