Vaccines --- Kill or Cure?
As the controversial debate over mandatory vaccine policy heats up igniting passions, it is perhaps appropriate we summarize what is known about the manifest benefits of modern vaccines, not forgetting the tremendously salutary impact on health and longevity wrought about by better living conditions, hygiene and sanitation, in general, and the introduction and subsequent widespread use of antibiotics, in particular.
The word hygiene comes from Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health (photo, below), who was the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine. Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution (c.1750-1850) and the discovery of the germ theory of disease in the second half of the nineteenth century, hygiene and sanitation have been at the forefront of the struggle against illness and disease.(1)
Since the fall of the Western Roman Empire, there have been three major bubonic plague epidemics, which afflicted large segments of the population in the continuous Eurasian landmass and North Africa. Death quickly followed the trade routes of the times. The death toll is almost incomprehensible. The Plague of Justinian (6th Century A.D.), the Black Death (14th Century A.D.), and the Bubonic Plague (1665-1666, which coincided with the Great Fire of London) caused an estimated 137 million dead in a world much more sparsely populated than it is today.