09
Sun, Aug
274 New Articles

William Garst: Vaccines - a Brief History and What is VAERS?

Typography

Vaccines have been in the news lately with the COVID-19 situation; therefore, I thought a column about this topic would be timely, especially since we have known for a long time about William Garst Column HeadShot Webthe immunity conferred by exposing a person to the disease that we are trying to avoid.

A vaccine is defined as “a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.”

The practice of inoculation (a term synonymous with vaccination), sometimes called variolation has been practiced in different forms since the 10th century. Edward Jenner of England is credited with being the “Father of Vaccines.”

In 1796, Jenner inoculated a boy with matter from a young dairymaid’s cowpox. The boy became mildly ill but recovered in a few days. He then inoculated the boy with material from smallpox and the boy showed no ill effects.

By the way, the reason the disease was called “smallpox” was to differentiate it from the “great pox” now commonly called syphilis. All of this occurred from the observation that dairymaids who were exposed to cowpox never seemed to catch smallpox, which was quite common in England and Europe. In addition, dairymaids were known to have nice complexions. Up to 25 percent of the people who contracted smallpox died, and the ones who survived were disfigured by the deep-seated pustules.

However, a little-known story about inoculation is told about Lady Montagu, an English aristocrat whose husband was appointed to be ambassador to Turkey in 1717. She was an inquisitive woman and wanted to learn as much as she could about the Ottoman culture. She quickly came to realize that smallpox was rare in that part of the world, when she learned that most of the children were “engrafted” with pus material from a person who had a mild case of smallpox.

The children would receive a scratch on their arms and then have the smallpox material rubbed into the scratch. They would fall ill for a few days and have a small number of mild pox but would recover quickly and their complexions would clear, and they would acquire immunity from smallpox.

Lady Montagu was so convinced of this procedure she had her son undergo the treatment with no ill effects. When she returned to England, she convinced Caroline, Princess of Wales, the wife of the future King George II to have her children “engrafted.” George II would allow only the female children to be engrafted, not the males.

The procedure was successful, and the female children recovered from a short illness. To test the procedure further, some prisoners and orphans were recruited for the procedure. They were all observed to recover fully and seemed to have protection from smallpox. This was the first recorded clinical trial, as crude as it was.

Initially, there was resistance to this procedure in the medical profession in England, but soon it caught on and became more common. The reason Jenner’s cowpox inoculation became the preferred method was that it was much safer. Sometimes patients would fall extremely ill with the engrafting and die, while Jenner’s inoculate could be transferred from arm to arm and not directly from cowpox material making it more reliable. In addition, there were rarely any serious reactions to Jenner’s method, and smallpox immunity was conferred.

Today, pharmacists are on the leading edge of providing immunizations to the public. Many pharmacies provide a variety of vaccines without a person having to go to the physician’s office. Check with your local pharmacy regarding availability and procedures for obtaining vaccinations because not all pharmacies offer vaccinations.

The final part of this column may be the most important: the reporting of adverse reactions to vaccines. The CDC and FDA co-administer a reporting program called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This is much like the MedWatch program in which individuals, as well as pharmacists and physicians, report any adverse reaction that may be related to the administration of a vaccine. If you should experience an adverse reaction to a vaccine you can reach out to https://vaers.hhs.gov/.

Vaccines are not without their risks, but the benefits usually outweigh the risks. In fact, vaccines have eliminated or greatly reduced more than 14 preventable infectious diseases including, measles, polio, and smallpox. However, it is still an individual decision and should not be made without due consideration.

Ref: https://vaers.hhs.gov/index.html; https://www.honorhealth.com/healthy-living/benefits-outweigh-risks-when-it-comes-vaccination; “Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager.

*     *     *

William Garst is a consultant pharmacist who resides in Alachua, Florida. He received his B.S. in Pharmacy from Auburn University in 1975. He earned a master’s degree in Pharmacy from UF in 2001. In 2007 he received his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Colorado. He is a member of many national professional associations as well as the local Alachua County Association of Pharmacists, and he serves on the Alachua County Health Care Advisory Board. He works part time at the UF Health Psychiatric Hospital. He retired from the VA in 2016. Dr. Garst enjoys golf, reading (especially history), and family. He writes a blog called The Pharmacy Newsletter (https://thepharmacynewsletter.com/). He can be contacted at communitypharmacynewsletter@gmail.com

#     #     #

Email editor@

alachuatoday.com

Vaccines have been in the news lately with the COVID-19 situation; therefore, I thought a column about this topic would be timely, especially since we have known for a long time about William Garst Column HeadShot Webthe immunity conferred by exposing a person to the disease that we are trying to avoid.

A vaccine is defined as “a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.”

The practice of inoculation (a term synonymous with vaccination), sometimes called variolation has been practiced in different forms since the 10th century. Edward Jenner of England is credited with being the “Father of Vaccines.”

In 1796, Jenner inoculated a boy with matter from a young dairymaid’s cowpox. The boy became mildly ill but recovered in a few days. He then inoculated the boy with material from smallpox and the boy showed no ill effects.

By the way, the reason the disease was called “smallpox” was to differentiate it from the “great pox” now commonly called syphilis. All of this occurred from the observation that dairymaids who were exposed to cowpox never seemed to catch smallpox, which was quite common in England and Europe. In addition, dairymaids were known to have nice complexions. Up to 25 percent of the people who contracted smallpox died, and the ones who survived were disfigured by the deep-seated pustules.

However, a little-known story about inoculation is told about Lady Montagu, an English aristocrat whose husband was appointed to be ambassador to Turkey in 1717. She was an inquisitive woman and wanted to learn as much as she could about the Ottoman culture. She quickly came to realize that smallpox was rare in that part of the world, when she learned that most of the children were “engrafted” with pus material from a person who had a mild case of smallpox.

The children would receive a scratch on their arms and then have the smallpox material rubbed into the scratch. They would fall ill for a few days and have a small number of mild pox but would recover quickly and their complexions would clear, and they would acquire immunity from smallpox.

Lady Montagu was so convinced of this procedure she had her son undergo the treatment with no ill effects. When she returned to England, she convinced Caroline, Princess of Wales, the wife of the future King George II to have her children “engrafted.” George II would allow only the female children to be engrafted, not the males.

The procedure was successful, and the female children recovered from a short illness. To test the procedure further, some prisoners and orphans were recruited for the procedure. They were all observed to recover fully and seemed to have protection from smallpox. This was the first recorded clinical trial, as crude as it was.

Initially, there was resistance to this procedure in the medical profession in England, but soon it caught on and became more common. The reason Jenner’s cowpox inoculation became the preferred method was that it was much safer. Sometimes patients would fall extremely ill with the engrafting and die, while Jenner’s inoculate could be transferred from arm to arm and not directly from cowpox material making it more reliable. In addition, there were rarely any serious reactions to Jenner’s method, and smallpox immunity was conferred.

Today, pharmacists are on the leading edge of providing immunizations to the public. Many pharmacies provide a variety of vaccines without a person having to go to the physician’s office. Check with your local pharmacy regarding availability and procedures for obtaining vaccinations because not all pharmacies offer vaccinations.

The final part of this column may be the most important: the reporting of adverse reactions to vaccines. The CDC and FDA co-administer a reporting program called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This is much like the MedWatch program in which individuals, as well as pharmacists and physicians, report any adverse reaction that may be related to the administration of a vaccine. If you should experience an adverse reaction to a vaccine you can reach out to https://vaers.hhs.gov/.

Vaccines are not without their risks, but the benefits usually outweigh the risks. In fact, vaccines have eliminated or greatly reduced more than 14 preventable infectious diseases including, measles, polio, and smallpox. However, it is still an individual decision and should not be made without due consideration.

Ref: https://vaers.hhs.gov/index.html; https://www.honorhealth.com/healthy-living/benefits-outweigh-risks-when-it-comes-vaccination; “Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager.

*     *     *

William Garst is a consultant pharmacist who resides in Alachua, Florida. He received his B.S. in Pharmacy from Auburn University in 1975. He earned a master’s degree in Pharmacy from UF in 2001. In 2007 he received his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Colorado. He is a member of many national professional associations as well as the local Alachua County Association of Pharmacists, and he serves on the Alachua County Health Care Advisory Board. He works part time at the UF Health Psychiatric Hospital. He retired from the VA in 2016. Dr. Garst enjoys golf, reading (especially history), and family. He writes a blog called The Pharmacy Newsletter (https://thepharmacynewsletter.com/). He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

#     #     #

Email editor@

alachuatoday.com