Resistance to vaccination didn’t start with MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella). It’s been around since the U.S. Founding Fathers, and even further back than that. Here’s a pamphlet, a caricature, a letter, an animation, and a chart that all help tell some of the story of how we’ve built and argued over vaccination through the years.
1. The pamphlet containing Benjamin Waterhouse’s essay “The Prospect of Exterminating The Small Pox“:
2. Inspired by the controversy surrounding the smallpox vaccine at the start of the 19th century, British satirist James Gillray caricatured a scene at the Small Pox and Inoculation Hospital in London showing the cowpox vaccine being administered to frightened young women and cows emerging from different parts of people’s bodies.
3. In this wonderful letter urging parents to vaccinate, Roald Dahl tells the tragic story of the death of his daughter Olivia from measles.
4. “Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. But just two shots make a child immune to measles forever. And each dose costs just 18 cents.” (Bill Gates). The RSA has brilliantly distilled Bill Gates’ 2011 annual letter into a three-minute sketchnote animation. Gates talks about the success of ridding the world of smallpox and the “miracle” that is the measles vaccine.
5. U.S. measles cases year by year since 2001, according to data from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD):
How We Get To Next was a magazine that explored the future of science, technology, and culture from 2014 to 2019. This article is part of our Vital Signs section, on the future of human health. Click the logo to read more.