The History Behind America’s Tortured Relationship to Vaccines
This vaccine rollout is unlike any the country has ever seen. We’ve never tried to get shots into so many adult bodies, and done it with such urgency. We're also fortunate that the COVID-19 vaccines have been widely shown to be safe and effective, unlike some past examples that brought significant risks. But there are still historical parallels. When old vaccines were new, we faced lack of public trust (for reasons both valid and misguided), inequity in distribution, and cost issues. And we thought creatively about ways to overcome these barriers. Here are a few stories of past vaccination campaigns that foreshadow some of our failures, and offer lessons for 2021. —Rebecca Onion
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Library of Congress, CDC, Chicago Department of Health, and Getty Images Plus.