Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: vaccination

  • Ethical considerations in treating minors against the wishes of their parents

    Vidushi SharmaDelhi, India When parents and medical professionals disagree on the treatment of minors (especially on vaccination), moral dilemmas arise. Such complex issues require careful ethical consideration in order to achieve a delicate balance between respect for parental autonomy and the wellbeing of the minor. This scenario raises fundamental questions about beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and…

  • John Walker, vaccinator extraordinaire

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Medicine has bred many odd but audacious characters, eccentrics, polymaths and “truants.” One might argue that those characteristics attracted such people to careers in medicine: a chicken and egg dilemma. Conversely, some have argued that modern regulated uniformity has infected medicine and stultified originality. A little-known medical eccentric and heretic…

  • “Killed By Vaccination”: the enduring currency of a nineteenth century illogic

    Saty Satya-Murti Santa Maria, California, United States   Fig. 1. William Young’s 1886 pamphlet alleging that smallpox vaccinations slaughter and kill. Source: Wellcome Collection. In Public Domain. Vaccine misinformation and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories are not new but have acquired a combative energy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly all the arguments now raised against vaccination were…

  • “An ounce of prevention”: past and present

    Jack E. Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, United States Donald R. Newcomer Glendale, Arizona, United States   Benjamin Franklin 1706–1790. Writer, publisher, philosopher, postmaster, scientist, diplomat. The Saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is commonly attributed to Franklin. Image credit: Painting by Joseph Duplessis, circa 1785. National Portrait Gallery NPG.87.43. Via…

  • When Darwin was wrong

    John Hayman Victoria, Australia   Fig. 1. The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy, as would have been seen by Darwin. (Photo by Bev Biggs.) Charles Darwin (1809-1802) is rightly famous, not for the discovery of evolution but for revealing the mechanism by which it may occur, natural selection. He not only formulated this idea, but…

  • Oswaldo Cruz and the eradication of infectious diseases in Brazil

    Robert PerlmanChicago, Illinois, United States In 1899, an epidemic of bubonic plague caused a crisis in the Brazilian port city of Santos. Ship captains were angry that their boats had to remain in quarantine and so denied that the disease was plague. They and others argued that this new disease was not as deadly as…

  • Doubled edged shield

    Adil Menon Cleveland, Ohio, United States Working my way through a biography of pioneering vaccine developer Maurice Hilleman titled Vaccinated, I was struck by how often the researchers of his era, such as Jonas Salk, tested their vaccines both on their own children as well as on children with cognitive challenges. If indeed the latter were…

  • The global journey of variolation

    Mariel TishmaChicago, Illinois, United States Humanity has eliminated only one infectious disease—smallpox. Smallpox is a very old disease and efforts to prevent it are almost as old. They included a technique called variolation, also known as inoculation or engrafting, in which individuals were infected with live smallpox virus to produce a milder form of the…

  • Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and smallpox

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. A painting of Mary Wortley Montagu by Jonathan Richardson the Younger. Via Wikimedia. There are few examples of people with no medical training who independently make significant advances in medical practice. One such person was the elegant, aristocratic Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)—daughter of Evelyn Pierrepont, first Duke…

  • Vaccinating a young child

    The entire household has assembled to watch a child being vaccinated against smallpox. Inoculation with material derived from cowpox lesions was still sufficiently novel to excite such interest. It had been first attempted in 1796 by Edward Jenner, who used the term vaccination because the Latin for cow is vacca and cowpox was called vaccinia.…