Delaware Modern Pediatrics Blog

“Life before vaccines.”

The February 16th issue of New Yorker magazine included a thoughtful article about the anti-vaccine movement.  (Click here to read it.)

One interesting “letter to the editor” commented on the article with a remembrance of life BEFORE vaccines, by a woman old enough to have “been there.”  People were hurt by these infections.  Here are her comments.

“There are still a few of us around who remember life before vaccines.  It’s hard watching each generation reinvent the wheel, when we wish that they could learn from our memories:

“Of the two children in my mother’s family who died of diphtheria; of the big red signs on houses under scarlet-fever quarantine; and of the little girl up the street who died of the disease show.

“The one vaccine available to us was smallpox:  nobody questioned whether to get it.  We lined up at school to receive the little scratch on the arm, and delighted in comparing scabs afterward – they meant that the vaccine “took.”

“As a naval-aviation cadet during the Second World War, my husband fell behind in his class when he came down with the mumps.

“We all knew somebody who limped for life – or worse – as a result of polio.

“Measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough – I had them all.  I’d have gladly risked the “hazards” of the vaccines.”

Vivian Douglas Smith, Falls Church, Va.