Use the Concept of Immunocapital to Explain Resistance to Vaccination in the Nineteenth-Century
For many centuries, smallpox devastated mankind. In modern times we do not have to worry about it thanks to the remarkable work of Edward Jenner and later developments from his endeavors. With the rapid pace of vaccine development in recent decades, the historic origins of immunization are often forgotten.
Vaccination has made an enormous contribution to global health. Two major infections, smallpox and rinderpest, have been eradicated. Global coverage of vaccination against many important infectious diseases of childhood has been enhanced dramatically since the creation of WHO's Expanded Programme of Immunization in 1974 and of the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization in 2000. Polio has almost been eradicated and success in controlling measles makes this infection another potential target for eradication. Despite these successes, approximately 6.6 million children still die each year and about a half of these deaths are caused by infections, including pneumonia and diarrhoea, which could be prevented by vaccination. Enhanced deployment of recently developed pneumococcal conjugate and rotavirus vaccines should, therefore, result in a further decline in childhood mortality. Development of vaccines against more complex infections, such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, has been challenging and achievements so far have been modest. Final success against these infections may require combination vaccinations, each component stimulating a different arm of the immune system.
Putative vaccine safety issues are commonly reported while reviews of vaccine benefits are few. A Medline search over the past five years using the keywords “vaccine risks” scored approximately five times as many hits (2655 versus 557) as a Medline search using “vaccine benefits” as keywords. (Atkinson P, Cullinan C, 2005) This reflects the fact that negative aspects of vaccination get much more publicity than positive aspects. How one addresses the antivaccine movement has been a problem since the time of Jenner. The best way in the long term is to refute wrong allegations at the earliest opportunity by providing scientifically valid data. This is easier said than done, because the adversary in this game plays according to rules that are not generally those of science. This issue will not be further addressed in this paper, which aims to show how vaccines are valuable to both individuals and societies, to present validated facts, and to help redress adverse perceptions. Without doubt, vaccines are among the most efficient tools for promoting individual and public health and deserve better press. (Andre FE, 2005)
Briefly, a national program of traditional pharmacopoeia and medicine has been established within the Ministry of Health. The findings of research sponsored by the program shed light on nineteenth-century narrative accounts of prevalent diseases and indigenous healing techniques. They also provide a comparative historical background for early colonial health policy and the current particular interest in the curative potential of traditional medicine.
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