Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: vaccines

  • A pandemic of emotions: Navigating vaccine hesitancy in a post-pandemic world

    Nidhi Bhaskar Providence, Rhode Island   Photo by CDC on Pexels Four years before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was registering community members at a local health fair. An elderly man in line mentioned that he would never receive a flu shot because his healthy cousin had died of an aneurysm after receiving one. I spoke…

  • “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…

  • A return to The Plague

    Bonnie Salomon Chicago, Illinois, United States   Cover of 1991 edition of The Plague by Albert Camus. For the past fifteen months, I have been reading and returning to Albert Camus’ 1947 novel, The Plague. Chronicling a fictional plague epidemic in Oran, Algeria, the narrator Dr. Rieux tells the saga of a city’s horrific struggle.…

  • 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…

  • Have we learned anything from 1918–1919 influenza?

    Edward Winslow Wilmette, Illinois, United States Actual daily deaths from influenza, September to November 1918. Monthly Bulletin of the Department of Health, December 1918. NYC Municipal Library. Source.  The 2020 viral pandemic (COVID-19),1 in spite of being caused by a novel virus family, bears striking epidemiological and social resemblance to the influenza pandemic of 1918.2 Both…

  • How conflict and bureaucracy delayed the elimination of yellow fever

    Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Army Surgeon General George Miller Sternberg. US government photo. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. The Golden Age of Bacteriology (1876–1906) saw the emergence of techniques to cultivate bacterial pathogens and develop vaccines and anti-toxin therapies against them. The new bacteriologists rapidly identified the agents causing anthrax, gonorrhea, typhoid,…

  • Blood donation in South Sudan

    Ahmed ElhagLatham, New York, United States When discussing the many challenges surrounding blood donation in South Sudan people tend to focus primarily on infrastructural barriers such as limited health care facilities and lack of investment and medical supplies. However, one important barrier that is often overlooked is the cultural stigma around blood donations. Many people…

  • Health, wellness, and their determinants

    Travis Kirkwood Ottawa, Ontario, Canada   Original map made by John Snow in 1854. Cholera cases are highlighted in black. 2nd Ed by John Snow. Public Domain due to age. John Snow is often referred to as the father of modern epidemiology. His work is certainly worthy of this1 and present-day public health2 still strives toward…

  • The flu vaccine: Transparency, uncertainty, and trust in medicine

    Anthony PapagiannisThessaloniki, Greece A few years ago the fear of ‘pandemic flu’ was spread widely all over the world, causing what has been termed an “emotional epidemic.”1 The disease itself, its social dimensions, and the ways it was publicly handled could form the subject for an academic thesis. Those events led me to a series of…

  • Physician: study thyself

    Susan HurleyVictoria, Australia In 2016 one man died and five others suffered brain damage during a drug trial in Rennes, France.1 A similar disaster occurred during the 2006 London trial of a novel monoclonal antibody: six men experienced an immediate systemic inflammatory response and became critically ill with multi-organ failure.2 These tragedies are a poignant…