The Validity of Vaccines

vintage illustration children gettingvaccinated

As discredited vaccine studies continue to impact public health, President Obama urges “Get your kids vaccinated”

Voluntary vaccinations …really?

The reality of vaccines is clear. They are safe. They are lifesaving.

Those who are  venomously opposed to vaccines are clearly relying on Mickey Mouse science. How else to explain the current outbreak of measles – that scourge all but vanquished from this country – that began in Disneyland, the ultimate safe haven for children.

Fueled by a virulent strain of misinformation, pseudo scientists and pseudo celebrities, the anti vaccine rhetoric is running rampant.

They are living in their own “Magic Kingdom.”

Vintage Illustrations childhood diseases Measles Mumps Rubella

Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine protects against 3 potentially serious illnesses. An effective vaccination campaign virtually eliminated measles in this country by 2000


By flouting the medical consensus they are compromising the safety of the community. The point of vaccines isn’t to just stop the vaccinated person from getting the disease it is to prevent the disease from spreading to others.

When it comes to saving lives, there is no choice.

As the vaccine issue is vigorously debated among politicians, its good to remember a time when vaccinations were not only vigorously embraced but each new vaccine was viewed as a victory for mankind.

The Miracle of the Polio Vaccine

vintage illustrations of childhood diseases

Vaccinations would keep me safe from the dreaded diseases like whooping-cough, diphtheria and polio that had ravaged other childhoods. Vintage illustrations of childhood diseases Polio, Diphtheria and Smallpox from “New Medical and Health Encyclopedia” 1956

Grateful to have been a fully inoculated American kid, I would take for granted one of the most remarkable developments in modern history.

The polio vaccine approved in April 1955, a mere two weeks after I was born was nothing short of a modern miracle.

As a child I was constantly reminded that mine was a charmed existence, protected from deadly contagious diseases that had previously wiped out families and communities forever. And not just in the Dark Ages but in my own mothers lifetime.

Receiving my first set of vaccinations as a baby in 1955, I felt invincible.

The injections may not have rendered me faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive but with my newly acquired powers that went far beyond those of third world tots, I could now stand down whooping-cough, diphtheria and laugh polio in the face.

Ravages of Polio

 polio precautions poster

Polio Precautions Poster


For the first half of the century polio was the most notorious disease until AIDS appeared. And for good reason- polio hit without warning. There was no way of telling who would get it and who would be spared.

Summer was open season for polio. Before 1955, there would be no youngsters swimming in public pools since most municipal pools were closed for fear of polio.

Like clockwork every summer, newspapers, with headlines screaming “Polio panic,” would appear with frightening photos of jammed packed polio wards and deserted beaches. News stories about containment competed for space, whether it was iron lungs or the iron curtain.

No disease struck the same terror as polio.

Fueled by feelings of helplessness, Mom like other nervous mothers, zealously checked and rechecked my brother’s every symptom; a sore throat, a fever, the chills, or even an aching limb, could all point to something ominous.

The rules were written in stone: Keep kids away from new groups of people. Don’t drink from the drinking fountain in the playground if you’re thirsty. Don’t put any foreign object in your mouth; Don’t run around in the heat with a sore throat; and make sure house screens were tight against flies and mosquitoes.

Losing Battle

vintage illustration child in wheelchair

This particular disease targeted defenseless children


This particular disease targeted defenseless children. It didn’t matter how good you were, how clean, how rich or poor, polio was the great American equalizer.

It seemed impossible that in this antibacterial, spic n’ span country where confident Americans were not just clean but Clorox clean, where physicians worked twice as fast for faster relief and creative chemistry worked wonders killing germs on contact, that polio could still ravage our nation.


Vintage illustration of patient in an iron lung used in polio treatment

For nearly a decade into the buoyant postwar era, polio still remained a scary disease to haunt our lives. No device is more associated with Polio than an iron lung, a tank respirator. Unable to breathe due to the virus paralyzing muscle groups in the chest, the iron lung maintained respiration and was a life saver.

Flush with triumphant victory of winning a war on two sides of the globe, we were still fighting a major battle right here in our own country, and in a way unfamiliar to Americans.

We were losing.

At a time when our confidence in American know how and scientific expertise was at an all time high, polio seemed to mock our can-do optimism.

The triumph over any enemy was an American birthright, so with that same can-do spirit, the troops were rallied with their resonating war cry “Polio can be conquered.”

March of Dimes

 March of Dimes Poster 1949

March of Dimes Collection cans with the heartbreaking pictures of little girls with steel braces were ubiquitous in post war America

On the Warpath Against Polio

Mom was a veteran of that war, and would play her part against polio by supporting The March of Dimes.

By 1951 Mom would soon be a mother herself and so for good reason she got involved.

As the front line defender of her family’s health, she  joined the National Foundation March of Dimes as a foot soldier, joining the millions of marching mothers on their one hour mission going house to house for solicitations as part of the Mothers march on Polio.

For an hour each year on a January evening these women, once an indelible image of postwar America, formed the largest charitable army the country had ever known, which served as models for much later marches by mothers against nuclear testing and environment.

Salk Vaccine Trials

collage March of Dimes Poster and illustration of boy getting a vaccine

Jonas Salk using March of Dime donations had successfully developed a vaccine to prevent polio

By 1954 the Salk vaccine trials rivaled the other big stories that spring – Brown versus Board of Education and The Army McCarthy hearings.

In fact more people knew about the field trials than knew the full name of the president. The kids in the trial were called Polio pioneers and a polio pioneer card was given out to each child along with a piece of candy when they participated in the first national trial tests of a trial vaccine.

In April 1955, my parents, along with millions of others had cause for celebration – the polio vaccine was approved! Jonas Salk using March of Dime donations had successfully developed a vaccine to prevent polio

Victory for a Vaccine

picture Dave garrowy host of Today; vintage illustrationcrippled boy walking

Host of NBC’s today Show Dave Garroway announces the polio vaccine works.

A very relieved Mom, along with most Americans of that age who were frantic to protect their children, would remember exactly where she was when she heard the groundbreaking news.

Early in the morning on April 12 1955, with the dishes washed, laundry folded, baby bottles being sterilized in the electric bottle sterilizer awaiting refill of formula, Mom could sit back, relax and give me my mid morning feeding.

As she warmed up the bottle, she warmed up the TV. With the skill of a safe cracker she delicately adjusted the large knobs on the mammoth mahogany encased set. Shaking the baby bottle, the milk felt pleasantly warm on Moms wrist and I drank it in satisfaction.

She settled in with a soothing cigarette in one hand my bottle in the other just as the easy-going voice of Dave Garroway host of NBC’s Today Show could be heard.

“And how are you about the world today? he would begin, the relaxing conversational tone making Mom feel as if she were sitting in the studio with him.

“Lets see what kind of shape it’s in; there is a glimmer of hope”.

Of course that was the understatement of the day when with his chimp side kick Fred Muggs at his side, the scholarly looking Garroway jubilantly announced: “The Vaccine Works. It is safe, effective and potent.”

Mom would recall that the once in a lifetime excitement felt as if it were like another V-J Day, the end of a war. That it was announced on the ten-year anniversary of FDR’s death added to the poignancy.

The bespectacled Garroway’s trademark sign off of an upraised palm, uttering simply: “Peace” had never seemed more prescient.

It would, gratefully,  be a terror I would never know.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Measles Crisis of October




  1. I remember the stamp lady came in once a week to sell US Savings bond stamps that, when you filled a booklet with sufficient stamps you could redeem for a US E-series savings bond in $25 or $50 denominations.

    Once a year, though, she switched to collecting dimes for the March of dimes. Donate a dime, and you got a little metal crutch with a row of dimes across the top. Fold back the little tab on top, and you could wear it on your pocket to show you’d contributed! Later, they switched to molded plastic crutches. Like the metal tabs, though, the plastic tabs quickly broke off, and the proof of your charity was no longer wearable.

    I was born in 1948, so was more aware that children got this terrible polio disease. My mother, in fact had it as a child. I remember a field trip to the local hospital where we saw a man in an iron lung and, next to him, a little girl our age. It was shocking. I’m surprised they put us through that experience now, but then children died of diseases some idiot parents now refuse to get them immunized for.

    I had measles one week in second grade, followed immediately by mumps the next week. The summer before I started kindergarten, I caught chicken pox. The legacy of that disease was in 2007 I came down with shingles. (My doctor, who had around 30 years in medicine then, said, “This is the worst case of herpes zoster I’ve seen.” One never wants to hear one’;s doctor say you topped the charts for any disease with which he or she is familiar!) Yes, it is extremely painful, and i still have constant pain from the damage it did to facial nerves. All have vaccines associated with them now, but not when I had them. (The herpes zoster vaccine was just starting to come on line before I had my experience with it.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing all this information, it’s fascinating and I love learning about it. Because I was born just as the vaccine came out I was the first generation to never know that terrible fear, but close enough to it that some old fears lingered. So sorry for the pain you experience with shingles…having had it myself i know how awful it can be. Part of our battle scars of childhood diseases.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I so agree with your assessment. I think the reason so many people don’t trust the vaccinations is that we now have the lobbyists running Congress, the FDA, the EPA and many of those agencies that were supposed to protect Americans. The recent screw-ups of the CDC over the Eboli outbreak. Also the BP pollution of the Gulf of Mexico. Again and again we have seen the FDA give its stamp of approval to drugs with awful side effects. Just look at the number of people who are opposed to genetically modified foods. It looks like we are going backward, not forward.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I ❤ this on the basis of the picture alone. Never mind the content. Required reading? Please?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was a kid, you got “child paralysis” (barnförlamning) by jumping in heaps of fallen leafs… You got a cold or even influence if you didn’t dress warm enough. If you were reading too much, you damaged your eyes, and too much studies made you crazy (over-learned). After my kid brother had got well after pneumonia, he wasn’t allowed to eat ice cream for months… But hot water with honey cured everything…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The great but short Chlorophyll hype crossed my mind. It was good for everything! Then some years went by, and then came the ‘pollen’ miracle medicine. Before my time, there were guaranteed radioactive mineral water – good for your health – and glass tubes that were made too light up with a spooky blue, violet or orange light – and gave you healthy high tension electric jolts. Then lamps which radiated heat, then infra red, then UV. And some strange massage engines. But they seem to have gotten a quite different use these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Many years ago I interviewed for a college teaching job at the National School for the Deaf in Rochester, NY. It was an amazing place. But I remember being told that they could always predict when a huge wave of deaf students would be arriving: exactly 18 years after every Rubella (measles) epidemic. Getting Rubella while pregnant can result in damage to your unborn child. When I went for a pre-marital exam in the 70s, my doctor strongly urged me to get the measles vaccination, which had not been available when I was a child. I wonder how many teachers got Rubella from their students in the bad old days….

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was too late for the measles vaccine which came in 1963, but I remember the excitement when vaccines became available for mumps, rubella in the late 1960s, and when they were combined in 1971 to become the MMR Vaccine. At the time there was a huge campaign directed at women thinking of becoming pregnant to get the vaccine.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Speaking about disabilities – doctors in Denmark have noted, that half the number of children with disabilities comes from immigrant minorities from the Middle East, practicing the custom to marry close relatives like cousins – since thousands of years. But the subject is now taboo – not PC. We had lessons in genetics when I was a child – I would guess that it has been deleted from the study plan now. The truth is never popular with those in power,

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I enjoyed ready the U.S. historical background on measles and polio. I can recall standing in a long line somewhere waiting for my polio vaccination. I was upset once I discovered that my brother would be given the vaccination via sugar cube, whereas I had to endure the shot in the arm!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the way you paint a picture for your readers! I was glued to the story all the way to the end and you offer a very interesting perspective one the vaccination controversy… I think a lot more people should read this article and consider the true ramifications of not vaccinating their kids

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: The Measles Crisis of October | Envisioning The American Dream

  12. Linda

    Yes it was a time when children got many childhood diseases but I don’t know of anyone who really suffered not like today with vaccine damage. The measles did not create big fear, parents took their kids to measles parties so they would get it and get it over with. Polio was a big fear, I only knew one person who got it and he was fine. 70% of people got some of the virus but never the disease, they never even knew they had it, others got flu like symptoms for a week and were fine, a small % unfortunately were left with damage. (CDC)
    110 cases of measles is no epidemic, no crisis. Many of those people were vaccinated. The case in NYC, 22 yr old was vaccinated and had a booster, she got it and she gave it to 4 others, all vaccinated except one.
    The damage of 110 people with measles will probably be 0. It isn’t a few celebrities or the scapegoat Dr from the UK, it is many Drs who are saying there is damage. OK 3 whistleblowers risked a lot to bring you the truth and the mainstream press gives it on credit, turns out they were right. Although the risks are in the drug literature it is never mentioned, never handed to a patient, they are making uninformed decisions under pressure. Why is there a vaccine damaged court? Why have parents so far been awarded billions? Why have some countries banned some of the vaccines?


    • The problem with non-vaccination is not only your own safety – you could get a disease and get over it well, but other people with different genetics could die or get damages if infected by you. Many diseases are the most contagious BEFORE you feel any symptoms. And – if you are un-vaccinated, you could have a good immune system, and so carry the germs or virus without getting ill – yourself – but you could give it to lots of other people.

      The Frightening Legacy of Typhoid Mary // With concerns about infectious disease in the news, a look back at history’s most famous carrier // // “…Some have estimated that she may have caused 50 fatalities” (Wiki)

      In the news now: “Toddler Dies From Measles in Berlin’s Worst Outbreak in a Decade”

      My ex-wife’s older sister had polio and survived – but with a semi-paralysed leg. Others were less lucky, and had to spend the rest of their lives in the “iron lung”. The pictures made everybody shudder. And my father’s aunt had had polio, too – and walked laboriously, leaning on a cane.

      “The North Carolina woman who lived inside an iron lung for 61 YEARS – but still managed to hold dinner parties and graduate with honours // Martha Mason had become paralysed at just 11 years old after suffering polio // She lay in the 7ft long, 800lb cylinder that encased all but her head
      Dubbed the iron lung, it worked as a type of ventilator, increasing and decreasing the air pressure to expand and contract her lungs” / // / /// ///

      As a little girl, my mother went to a kids’ birthday party at a wealthy family. The maid was very ill, but was forced to serve the little children. All of them got ill, some of them died. My mother went to hospital for several weeks – the doctors’ didn’t think she would make it, but she did. It was the kids’ disease Scarlet fever.

      Rubella, also known as German measles – “This disease is often mild and attacks often pass unnoticed. The disease can last one to three days. Children recover more quickly than adults. Infection of the mother by rubella virus during pregnancy can be serious; if the mother is infected within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, the child may be born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which entails a range of serious incurable illnesses. Miscarriage occurs in up to 20% of cases.”

      I got lots of shots as a kid – and survived. Now 71 and “still crazy after all these shots”. In the late 1940’s, the vaccination scheme did not cover all of those diseases. I am not sure of which “children’s diseases” I have had, maybe Rubella and Measles – but Chickenpox, also known as varicella I am sure of, because it was so painful, getting blisters ALL over your body. “Infection in otherwise healthy adults tends to be more severe”

      “After a chickenpox infection, the virus remains dormant in the body’s nerve tissues. The immune system keeps the virus at bay, but later in life, usually as an adult, it can be reactivated and cause a different form of the viral infection called shingles (also known as herpes zoster).The United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) suggests that any adult over the age of 60 years gets the herpes zoster vaccine.” My father got it, and said it was the most painful experience he ever had had. And he had had a lot of accidents. People called the disease “The Devil’s Whip” in Sweden…

      I am crossing my fingers… Or should I ask the local nurse if she has a shot for me?

      Chickenpox may cause infertility, at least in men who gets it as adults.

      This is part of the explanation, why people in bygone days could get 10 kids or more – and only see one of them grow up and reach maturity.

      August Strindberg – “Half a Sheet of Foolscap” (A very short short story about family life in 19th century)

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Reganvalt

    Totally respect your views… hope you are not looking for mandatory inoculations and do realize having personal choice is part of what makes us great… and you can not deny vaccine injuries do happen!!!!

    Great Blog!!!


    • I certainly agree in personal choice and that injurious side effects do in fact happen, but there must be regard for public health and caution taken on the part of those who choose not to vaccinate. Glad you enjoyed the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Craig Williams

    The overwhelming reason why we do not see Polio in the United States in the year 2015 is because in 2015, it is virtually impossible for a person residing in the United States, or other developed nations for that matter, to contract Polio from someone who has it, even if it is someone else with an active case of it lives among those in the population with no immunity to Polio. This current situation, in which Polio is not being transmitted anywhere within the territories of the US and virtually all other developed nations, would now be the case even if nobody was ever given the Polio vaccine during the 20th century. In short, none of us today can catch it because none of us can ever find ourselves where it might ever possibly be we can become exposed to it. Even if it is a Polio sufferer from another country comes here, nobody without an immunity can at all be put at risk of catching it in this day and age. Despite an increasing percentage of children going without ever being given the Polio vaccine, we are witnessing none of them are catching Polio and none of them ever will catch it.

    We have eliminated Polio here because we came to the understanding by the late 20th century that the once common practice of dissipating comparatively small amounts of raw sewage into much larger bodies of water isn’t as safe a practice as it was once thought to be and while it might have been thought safe by previous generations to have done so and thus not see other feces-born diseases such as Dysentery, Cholera etc., common sanitation practices which weren’t allowing for the spread of other diseases were in fact allowing for the spread of Polio. We figured that out regardless of whatever good the ‘band-aid’ effect the vaccine might have served. But in this day and age, the vaccine is for all intents and purposes, superfluous for anyone not traveling to the 3rd world.

    Nowhere in any developed country can any municipality any longer dump even the tiniest amount of untreated sewage into even the largest of bodies of water. Nor do we at all see the public using non-chemically treated communal latrines as were in fact both quite common practices in the US as late as the mid-20th century and when it was America was experiencing it’s last Polio epidemic.

    Never again will we under any circumstances see Polio in America again unless it is our infrastructure literally has the crap bombed out of it as was the case for Iraq’s beginning in the late 1990s and when it was Polio started showing up there again after being eliminated decades earlier by comprehensive means.


  15. Nothing in our lives are 100 percent safe. 33.000 persons was killed in traffic accidents in US 2012. 1941-1945, around 300.000 US soldiers were killed in action. The same number is killed on the US roads in 9 years time, in the later years’ numbers. But in 1972, almost 55.000 was killed in traffic. Still, there are no group lobbying for the abolition of motorcars. The Amish are not doing any missionary work on the issue.

    The Taliban are trying to kill all health personal doing vaccinations – and if you are irresolute, doing the exactly opposite of what the Taliban are doing is a safe bet.

    There must be better – and safer ways to rebel against authorities or government Methods that will not endanger other people’s life or health. Like exposing corruption or neglect.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. sdaven5191

    I absolutely agree with your assessment of the situation. 110%. Even more. My extremely intelligent daughter, who is in her 30’s now, married 15 years next May, a well educated RN with her BSN, and a previous degree based strictly on true sciences, is also the mother of my six grandchildren. Not a single one of my grandchildren has been vaccinated for anything. They range in age from 12 years to 5 months. They are homeschooled by both parents – primarily by their mother, some by their father when he can – and homeschooling groups in their area. I have no idea of the vaccination status of the other children, nor do I know if they share that information amongst themselves. But I can tell you that if anything untoward happens to any of my grandchildren because of her foolishness and ridiculous lack of logic and common sense, there’s going to be hell to pay.
    My daughter and her brother were both vaccinated as babies and children when the schedule required it. She had one feverish reaction to an MMR shot as a baby, but nothing critical, or abnormal in the grand scheme of things. They both had chicken pox in elementary school, apparently they either didn’t have that vaccination or it didn’t “take” as it should have. No after effects I am aware of.
    I have been involved in healthcare most of my working life, and have never followed or endorsed any form of “Mickey Mouse” or pseudoscience of any kind at any time. I am not in favor of her antivax thought processes at all, of course, and knew from the get-go that report on the alleged link between vaccinations and Autism was flawed in some form or fashion. As it turns out, my suspicions about that were confirmed.
    My husband’s two sisters married into the same family, each marrying a brother, in which autism had been rather prevalent in certain branctogether one of the children of these two sisters had any issues with the disorder, even though all were vaccinated as recommended, until the youngest son of one of my sisters in law. There is nothing about the timing of any of his “baby shots” that links with the appearance of any of his symptoms. He is quite bright, and high functioning, having graduated from high school. He also has never been plagued by the dangers of the diseases for which he has been vaccinated.
    On the other hand, my question has always been this ~ Over history, what about all the poorly diagnosed and untreated individuals with the exact same types of symptoms as Autism who were labeled “Retarded,” lumped all together, institutionalized, and abandoned in “Homes” never to have been vaccinated against anything, because they didn’t exist? Can’t blame vaccinations for all of those people, can we? The “labeling” process has been clarified and defined and the diagnosis and treatment of the various degrees of Autism has improved greatly over time, with improved research. These processes didn’t exist so long ago, or the vaccines being blamed now, but the conditions did. Explain this?


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