When twentieth century vaccines were new did they vaccinate adults too?

As I watched an episode of Call the Midwife, set in 1960, they talked about how someone had an unusual case of diphtheria, implying it was unusual because of high vaccination rates - this only a dozen years or so after the vaccine became common. This made me realize that there’s something I have no idea about when it comes to vaccines:

When they developed vaccines for various diseases, did they administer them to adults too, or did they just give them to children like they now do? I’m not sure if the average person who was an adult when they were developed was assumed to have already had and survived diphtheria, the measles, whooping cough, mumps etc. I know I myself was never offered the vaccine for the chicken pox.

What about things like polio that weren’t considered routine childhood illnesses that most kids got?

People can have polio and not know it; in most cases, it’s a GI disease with no paralytic symptoms.

Whether adults were vaxed depends on the disease. I’ve seen footage of polio clinics in the 1950s, and people of all ages lined up. As for the chicken pox vaccine, or MMR for that matter, when those came out, most adults didn’t need them because they already had those diseases.

For the so-called childhood diseases, mumps measles, chicken pox, pretty much every kid had it and presumably had as much immunity as the vaccine would provide. I think they’ve since discovered that being exposed later to those diseases when, for example, your kids got them was like a booster shot improving your immunity. This pretty much no longer happens so I’ve heard talk they may start giving boosters if you might be exposed.

But polio, for example, was routinely given to adults. I remember standing in like with my parents for the Sabin oral vaccine.

As a child, I had mumps but not measles, and IDK if I ever had rubella (that can be asymptomatic too, one reason why it’s so potentially dangerous) and have had the MMR vaccine. I had to have measles immunity when I went to college in 1990.

I never had mumps. The do who gave me my first adult MMR said I was probably immune but SOP was to vaccinate to be sure.

Yes, they vaccinated everyone they could get their hands on.

Edward Jenner podcast as cite.

In World War II U.S. troops were universally vaccinated upon entering the military. Of course, at that time they were going after diseases like typhoid, typhus and yellow fever.

There was a WW2 vaccination available for diptheria, but it was not given universally, because of the potential for side effects, and because studies showed the vast majority of troops already had immunity to the disease.

Army recruits are still given MMR, DPT (or DTP, whichever adults get), and polio, as well as flu. They may be given chickenpox now too (it wasn’t available when I went through basic). People who are sent overseas into war zones are also given smallpox.

Since there will always be some recruits who weren’t properly vaccinated, some people who lived overseas, or weren’t US citizens, some people whose parents were anti-vax, others were just negligent, missed follow-up boosters, etc., and a few who didn’t respond to a vaccine, but will respond as an now, the policy is just to vaccinate everyone. The alternative is to have everyone who is vaccinated produce records showing their vaccinations, and that can be a paperwork nightmare; there’s no danger in being vaccinated again for something you are already immune to, so so what if you get an extra vaccine? there were about 250 women in my company, and 1,250 people altogether in my battalion training at the same time; not one person got sick from a vaccine. FWIW, you get them all on the same day, too.

Adults are vaccinated during outbreaks sometimes, too. There was a measles case in a dorm on my college campus, and every student was required to show proof of prior vaccination, or get a vaccine. The vaccine was free, and getting my paperwork from New York was a pain, so I just got the shot. Faculty and staff were getting it too, on a voluntary basis. The lines were long, but they moved fast.

If an adult has not had chickenpox, that adult really should get the vaccine, particularly if he becomes a parent. But many people don’t think to bring it up with their doctors, and since there aren’t family doctors much anymore-- that is, the parents and the newborn are seeing the same doctor, it may not occur to the doctor to bring it up either. By brother had the chickenpox as an adult (21 years old), and was so thoroughly miserable. I had them when I was three, and don’t really remember them.

Is it an American thing to vaccinate only children nowdays? Here in Europe, it’s not at all uncommon for grownups to get vaccinations. Sometimes they’re boosters for shots received years earlier (even though as far as I know, present day medicine predominantly holds that boosters after so many years after the initial vaccination are, for most diseases, not even be needed anymore). Sometimes, though, an adult would get a shot against a disease they were not previously vaccinated against.

Adults gets vaccines here as well. SOmetimes it’s a tetanus booster or to catch up on missed vaccines (especially as they enter college). Healthcare workers often get vaccines for flu or hepatitis as part of their work.

Pregnant women are also urged to get the DPT or TDP or whatever it is for adults in the third trimester, in the hope that it does pass some immunity to the fetus. Which really ticked me off because I’d gotten it just before we tried to get pregnant and that fucker hurts.

(I’d asked to get it, though, earlier - it’s not something they push on you, but it’s something they have available. I asked everybody who’d be keeping the baby to get it, because pertussis is back in a big way. Plus I wanted it because I deal with the public.)

Children under 7 get DTaP. Everyone else gets Tdap.

The capitalization indicates that Tdap has a smaller dose of the diphtheria and pertussis toxins than DTaP. The smaller dose reduces side-effects in adults.

My college had a case of meningitis, and vaccines were voluntary but they were free for students and staff, so I got one. In this case, the lines were also out the door but moved quickly.

As for adult vaxes, a tetanus booster is recommended every 10 years, and TDaP is the one usually given. Several years ago, there was a pertussis outbreak in the area where I was living at the time, and the county health department was giving them for $10 (free if you were on Medicare or Medicaid). A TV station went there, and the people who spoke on camera said they weren’t all that concerned about themselves, but they had contact with children or worked with the public and did it for this reason.

I’ve been told many times that anyone who is eligible for the shingles vaccine should get it.

The hospital where I used to work also gave lots of MMRs, and somewhat fewer TDaps, to women before they were discharged from the OB unit. Hep B for newborns was another story; it was ordered for all babies but usually refused, and we had to discard them because we never knew how long they had been out of the refrigerator. :rolleyes: Prior to it being required for school attendance, we only gave it to babies whose parents requested it, the mother tested positive, or were being placed for adoption; any of those were probably less than 1% of the births at that facility.

If I was in the age range for Gardasil, I would get it, and I would get it for my children too if I had them. I do not, however, believe that it should be mandatory for school attendance or employment, because it is not transmissible through casual contact.

ETA: Whatever that alphabet soup is for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis!

That seems like an odd change for efficiency given that record keeping is easier than when I started. The last time I paid attention it was still part of the MEPS medical processing to update SM shot records based on civilian records of immunization. My initial entry shots were based on my childhood immunizations even though ti was literally all paper at that point. In the absence of documentation some shots were assumed based on age. That assumption bit me when smallpox became a thing again. I was assumed to have gotten it in my youth. That just meant I got stuck with the little pustule causing pitchfork twice as many times. Like nuking from orbit it was the only way to be sure.