T. Hamton Gadel

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Importance of Vaccines

Vaccines are of great importance to humans, as they protect us against diseases that would otherwise seriously harm or kill us. Because of vaccines, smallpox has been eradicated, polio has been eliminated in the Americas, Europe, and India, and dozens of other diseases have been exponentially reduced.
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How Do Vaccines Affect You?

Vaccines are vital to keeping us safe from diseases. Largely because of vaccines, humans are living longer and healthier lives, as we can now immunize ourselves from once-widespread deadly illnesses.

History of Vaccines

One of the first successful uses of a vaccine was in 1796, when physician Edward Jenner discovered that people who have contracted the minor disease cowpox became immune to smallpox. To test this, he infected an eight-year-old boy with cowpox, then inoculated him with smallpox six weeks later. The boy did not contract the disease, meaning the experiment was successful. He later tested his hypothesis on twenty-three other people, and was successful in immunizing them to smallpox each time.

Ethical Concerns

There are many ethical concerns about vaccines. One such concern is the way that vaccines are tested. While a successful test of a vaccine could potentially develop a way to save many lives, it also puts the test subjects at risk of being infected by a deadly disease.

There have also been religious concerns. As early as 1798, various religious groups have been opposed to vaccination, as they believe that it would be interfering with God's will.

Another ethical concern is whether or not it is ethical to force people to vaccinate, as it could potentially be seen as infringing one's personal or religious rights. However, when people do not vaccinate, it not only puts them in danger but others as well. Many people cannot vaccinate due to health reasons, and they may be infected by people who choose not to vaccinate.

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Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

No. There is zero scientific evidence to support this claim. If you seriously believe that, please watch this video:
How Anti-Vaxxers Sound to Normal People

Related Fields

As with all scientific fields, vaccinology is closed related to other branches of science. It is related to epidemiology (the study of disease patterns), as vaccines play a key role in the control of diseases. Vaccinologists also must be familiar with immunology (the study of the immune system) in order to understand how vaccines affect the immune system. Microbiology (the study of microorganisms) is another related field, as vaccines are designed to teach the immune system to kill certain viruses, and they also contain dead or weakened viruses in order to work.

The Future of Vaccines

Researchers are constantly trying to find ways to improve the way vaccines work. Vaccines in the form of a nasal spray or a skin patch are both currently being researched. These delivery methods would both allow for vaccines to be easily administered without the help of a trained medical professional, which would be very beneficial in remote areas of the world. Researchers are also trying to find a way to allow vaccines to be stored without refrigeration, for temperature-controlled storage is not available in many areas of the world.
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Pictured above: a nanopatch, which is smaller than a fingernail and contains hundreds of minuscule needles. This is a potential future delivery method of vaccines.