the following post was written by Pamela Peacock, Museum Curator
The Museum of Health Care is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition, Vaccines and Immunization: Epidemics, Prevention, and Canadian Innovation. Developed with Guest Curator Dr. Christopher Rutty, and funded in part by the Kingston and United Way Community Fund, the Coalition of Canadian Healthcare Museums and Archives, and Sanofi Pasteur, the exhibit uses case studies of diseases that saw significant decreases in the twentieth century because of immunization – smallpox, diphtheria, polio, and whooping cough – to identify the cost of epidemics to society and explore the search for adequate treatment and preventative measures, such as vaccines.
There is significant public debate over the merits and risk of vaccinations, much of which is fueled by inflammatory rhetoric rather than facts and science. This debate has raged ever since the first vaccine for smallpox was proposed by Dr. Edward Jenner in the 1790s and, doubtless, it will continue as new vaccines are developed. What is often sidelined in this debate, however, is the impact of the diseases that vaccines have helped to control and prevent. While risks of vaccines – real or inflated – are highlighted in the debate, the ravages of disease including their mortality rates, symptoms and long-term side-effects are often neglected because the bulk of society no longer connects to the first-hand fear of a growing epidemic. Yet, such epidemics are occurring more frequently in Canada as diseases that were previously well controlled return, in part due to decisions not to get vaccinated. A better understanding of the human, societal, and economic impact of diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, polio, and pertussis, and the beneficial effect of vaccination programs should help individuals make more informed choices. Continue reading
Filed under: Ex crypta: The Curator's Blog, Programs & Events | Tagged: diphtheria, health care;, immunization, iron lung, kingston general hostpital, pertussis, polio, Sanofi, sick kids hospital, smallpox, vaccination, vaccines, whooping caugh | Leave a comment »