Is it true that everybody who got the smallpox vaccine in the 1800s has since died? Wow, makes you think

Not trying to cause trouble. Just seemed an interesting question to post, since I read it in the Onion.

I get all my news from The Onion.

And I’ll bet most of them ate tomatoes, too.

Wolf peaches!


that’s what I was gonna say

Captain Cook did not use sunscreen, and he’s dead now.

Or so they say.

To inject* a serious note here, let’s hope we never have to reinstitute mass smallpox vaccination. A study that came out in 2002 estimated that a nationwide campaign that vaccinated people between the ages of 1 and 65 would cause 4,600 serious adverse events and 285 deaths. And that’s with 15% of the population being exempted for having risk factors making them susceptible to such outcomes. A sweeping (voluntary) vaccination drive in NYC at the time of the last major smallpox outbreak in the 1940s resulted in several deaths as I recall, about as many as caused by the disease (without vaccination of course, the disease toll could well have been much higher).

It’s a reminder of how much safer current vaccines like the ones for Covid-19 are.**

**the smallpox vaccine used live virus (vaccinia, a different member of the pox family) which can cause problems especially in those with deficient immune status. And that vaccine contained a large number of antigens, causing relative hyperimmune stimulation compared to present day vaccines, which contain far fewer antigens

Would it not be possible to develop a safer smallpox vaccine now?

That’s what they would like for you to believe.

When the Sabin vaccine for polio came out, there was a great deal of excitement. Seems the first vaccine for polio, by Salk, was somewhat prone to making people ill, giving them polio in their arm or perhaps throughout. There was a bad batch involved in at least some of this – I think it was a de-activated virus vaccine in which a batch didn’t get fully de-activated.

It was exciting! We all lined up, hundreds and hundreds of us in a big open field, playing and goofing off until our parents yelled at us, and we got the sugar cubes once we made it to the table.

Getting the Covid vaccine was a little reminiscent of it, except we were mostly old and not running around playing.