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History As It Happens

Sep 16, 2021

When Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan tweeted “Vaccine mandates are un-American,” he immediately received a Twitter history lesson. Commenters pointed out that none other than General George Washington of the Continental Army required smallpox inoculations for all his troops as an epidemic of the dreaded disease killed off thousands of people across the colonies. Washington’s mandate worked, even if some soldiers had to be held down against their will to be inoculated. Vaccination mandates, and resistance to them, have been the norm across U.S. history, leading to the eradication or dramatic reduction of as many as 14 diseases that once ravaged humanity. In this episode, Dr. René Najera of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia discusses the history of vaccination and origins of the modern anti-vax movement at a time when President Biden is mandating shots for most of the American workforce. As summer turns to fall, more than a thousand Americans are dying daily from Covid-19, almost all of whom are unvaccinated.