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History and Development of Vaccines

Info: 1856 words (7 pages) Nursing Literature Review
Published: 27th Oct 2020

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History of Vaccines


 Vaccines are a biological preparation of a smaller portion of a disease introduced in the body, which triggers the immune system to respond by creating antibodies that fight the vaccine (Golbas, 2016; Plotkin, 2014).  Vaccines are vital for longevity and health of humans.  There is a correlation with nations that vaccinate as the gross domestic product (GDP) and higher intelligence quotient (IQ) is at a higher level than countries that do not have the financial means (Doherty, 2016).  Vaccines benefit the individual immediately and the public benefit long term as vaccines eliminate the spreading of diseases that could create epidemics.

The purpose of this paper is to bring attention to the history of vaccines around the globe.  Vaccines immediate effects as well as society’s that carry out national immunization standards and practices.  Does the argument that parents make for keeping their children from mandatory vaccinations have real standing?

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Natural immunization has always existed.  The body recognizes an infectious virus and the immune system fights the vaccine internally from receiving the disease (Plotkin, 2014).  While the first known vaccine dates back to China around 1000 AD (Golbas, 2016).  A powdery substance made from smallpox scab was administered by blowing the substance into the nostrils of the person infected with the smallpox virus.  The second way to immunize against the smallpox virus was to scratch the matter from an open sore onto the skin of another person (Doherty, 2016).  The modern vaccine for smallpox came in 1796 and smallpox was considered eradicated as the last known case was reported in 1977 in Somalia.  In 1948, the last known case was in the United States (US; Doherty, 2016).  Another significant vaccine discovery was developed by doctor Jonas Salk in 1951 for polio and it was used to treat patients years later in 1955 (Golbas, 2016).  Polio had devastated tens of thousands of children with paralysis and was often one of the leading causes of death among children.  There are no known cases of polio in the US after 1993 (Golbas, 2016).

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Vaccines that have been historically significant in history include avian cholera and rabies both developed by Louis Pasteur, a French chemist (Plotkin, 2014).  Shortly after, there were vaccines for typhoid, diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles, tetanus, and mumps (Golbas, 2016).  Vaccinations for diseases such as diphtheria, measles, and polio has prevented millions of deaths and disabilities worldwide (Loharikar, 2016).  New vaccines originate in poorer countries, sometimes decades later after financially sound countries have benefited from the financial ability to offer vaccines that provide benefits to its countrymen (Loharikar, 2016). 

A concerted effort to provide immunization to nations that are less financially capable of immunizing its citizens comes from a global partnership, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund as well as Gavi the Vaccine Alliance (Loharikar, 2016).  The funding for vaccines for children in poorer countries has a direct effect on children’s IQ in these poorer countries’ and their potential to earn as adults affecting the GDP of those countries (Doherty, 2016).  It has been reported that childhood immunizations have been attributed to better test scores, therefore, the vaccination provides better prospects for better employment opportunities (Hendriks, 2013).  A study of Danish children who suffered from bacterial meningitis found lower IQ tests and the effects were felt decades later thus effecting the prospects of employment (Doherty, 2016).  Recent studies revealed that lower IQ tests in countries that do not immunize at greater numbers show a direct correlation of lower IQ test scores (Doherty, 2016).   

The United States operated within a common law practice called parens patrire (Golbas, 2016).  A belief that the government has a fundamental right to take care of citizens that are most vulnerable including children.  States now operate within the “US Supreme Court’s 1944 decision Prince versus Massachusetts underscores that while parents are legally permitted to make unwise decisions regarding themselves that right does not extend to the health of their children” (Weithorn & Reiss, 2018, p. 1612).  The law states that parents shall immunize their children before enrollment in daycares and preschools that are publicly funded (Golbas, 2016; Salmon, 1999; Weithorn & Reiss, 2018).  In addition, the law provides immunized children protection from the children who are not immunized.  Parents who refuse to immunize their children can be questioned if an outbreak of infectious viruses occurs as well as taken to court for neglect.  Also, children can be removed and subjected to foster care in severe cases (Golbas, 2016).

Influenza is a serious issue concerning the world.  In the United Kingdom (UK) targets for immunization against influenza are more than often not met (While, 2019).  A study of nurses living in the UK found that there was a noticeable decline in nurses’ own vaccinations (Hendriks, 2013).  The nurses understood the benefits and risks of vaccinations associated with patients they encountered as a result of their work with the public.  The nurses’ decision to refuse immunizations increased, due to their personal health beliefs and religious practices.  As a result, nurses’ refusal put them at higher risk to the population that frequent the health care facilities as well as put a burden on their contemporaries (While, 2019).  Sadly, people who do not vaccinate or parents who keep their children from immunizations depend on the rest of society to shoulder the responsibility.  The greater population provide cover for those who chose to withdraw from the practices of immunizations that millions participate in every day.  The population that withdraws is known as herd immunity, which protects people who have not been immunized (Golbas, 2016).  Evidence has shown that nations who immunize benefit immediately and create an overall health benefit to society as a hold permanently. 

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 Diphtheria was considered the number one cause of deaths in Europe in 1943 accounting for over 60,000 deaths per year.  Diphtheria cases are low and almost nonexistent because of immunization (Ainsworth 2014).  Equally important to the success in nations vaccination is that diseases like Diphtheria is notifiable.  There are protocols in which health care professionals are obligated to contact the local authority.  The practice mitigates the risk of an outbreak (Ainsworth, 2014).  Recently, human papillomavirus vaccinations (HPV) has been suggested for adolescents as well as for the prevention of cervical cancer in women, which is a clear benefit to prevent disease (Loharikar, 2016; Plotkin, 2014).


Vaccines have been important in thwarting outbreaks.  The history of vaccines can be traced back to China 1000 AD to eradicate smallpox (Doherty, 2016).  Polio was a devastating disease that killed thousands of children and was considered a health crisis until Louis Pasteur discovered a vaccine for the polio virus in 1951 (Golbas, 2016; Plotkin, 2014).  Many thanks to the incredible effects of the vaccine that eradicated polio and since causes no danger to the US or the World.


Vaccinations offer immediate benefit for the person and herd immunity for the greater population.  Immunizations have saved millions of lives from rabies, chickenpox, smallpox, and influenza.  Financially stronger countries as well as poorer countries inoculate their citizens and implement best practices that prevent the spreading of infectious diseases.  The benefits of immunizations are shown with IQ test as well as higher GDP.  People who chose not to be immunized are protected by herd immunity persons that are immunized, in turn, the disease will be difficult to catch.  Overall, immunizations are critical to protect the health of one’s community and society by preventing outbreaks.



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