As of this morning, researchers at Johns Hopkins University are reporting 29,048,819 reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States since the pandemic began. (The New York Times has a similar number on their COVID-19 website.) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of fully vaccinated people in the United States is at a little over 32 million as of today. This is significant because well over 90% of the United States population should receive at least one dose of the vaccine by September, taking the country as a whole well into herd immunity territory. (One dose matters now that the Janssen/Johnson&Johnson vaccine has received Emergency Use Authorization.) It is also significant because, as long as the pace of vaccination outpaces the rate of new infection, the epidemic in the United States should slow down and begin to reverse.
Back in 1759, Benjamin Franklin wrote an introduction to a pamphlet aimed at encouraging people to get inoculated with smallpox in a controlled way in order to gain immunity and prevent epidemics. Before and after Benjamin Franklin’s time, social influencers have had great influence on whether or not people take action. Like Benjamin Franklin, Catherine The Great of Russia — then the ruler of the Russian Empire — also influenced her people to adopt variolation. Today, we have many more social influencers because of mass media, and public health agencies around the world who are looking to promote the COVID-19 vaccine have taken notice.
A few days ago, we told you how influenza and other respiratory diseases have been suppressed through the same public health actions against COVID-19. In trying to avoid a “double epidemic,” public health authorities recommended that anyone who could get an influenza vaccine should go ahead and take it. The result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is over 190 million doses given, a record.
According to the World Health Organization and other public health authorities, the African Continent has…
n 1969, a debate took place between John M. Neff, MD, and Samuel Lawrence Katz, MD, on whether to continue to immunize children against smallpox given that, at the time, the disease was under control in the country. (Think of polio today, where it is found only in areas of Central Asia, yet children in the United States and other countries continue to receive the vaccine.) The debate was televised and archived by the US National Library of Medicine.