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What Triggered The Emergence Of Vaccines?
The core and meaning of each epoch are determined by certain technological achievements, scientific and cultural advances, and, of course, changes in public perception and acceptance of current innovations taking place in society. Humanity transforms with time, but while ancient ignorant nomads turned into orderly law-abiding, self-sustaining communities, the nature of human psychology and physiology remains the same. What caused pain a millennium ago can still cause pain at the present time, especially when it comes to little children.
Where our ancestors relied on supernatural forces to solve existential and practical questions while we are surrounded by computers, one thing remains the same: infections still threaten our lives. For centuries, millions of lives have been taken by ferocious epidemics of different infections, devastating the hearts of inconsolable mothers whose children perished from contagious diseases. Fortunately nowadays, the majority of such deaths are preventable owing to a priceless tool, a tool that enabled the body to fight diseases itself: vaccination.
As an appalling number of deaths and post infectious disabilities led early scientists to believe that it was time to do something about it, the era of artificial immunization was launched.
My own family decided, for reasons not clear to me, to neglect to vaccinate me until I started daycare at age three. Being a vaccination-free kid exposed to all manner of germs, my health suffered. Within my first year at daycare, I had contracted a very severe form of chickenpox, rubella, all possible kinds of viral infections, measles, and on top of that, before I started primary school I had nearly died from Hepatitis A.
My weight was 16 kg a week before I began attending school, though I was quite tall for my age. The illness had impaired my memory drastically. It took me a year to rehabilitate from bilirubin encephalopathy, a condition caused by very high levels of bilirubin. I can still remember what I felt and how unbearable it was for me when I was lying in my bed with an off-the-charts fever facing another infectious disease.
Perhaps, my mom and dad were happy that they “did not poison” their child with "synthetic foreign trash", which is what they called vaccines. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I'd rather not talk about my opinion of my parents. Apparently, in our electronic age, children are still not guaranteed the right to basic medical care. Perhaps my vaccination-free childhood was the reason I became a pediatrician.