Can vaccines solve the problem of infectious global pandemics?
Vaccination is among the oldest and most effective of medical interventions, yet paradoxically, it is also one of the most controversial. In its modern form, it has been used for centuries to prevent some of the most virulent infectious scourges of our time. Today, immunization is one of the most successful and effective interventions available to medicine and public health, reducing morbidity and mortality across the world. In this interdisciplinary course you will examine the history of vaccination using a number of specific episodes in which it was utilized to prevent illness, disability and death, as well as the social and political controversies that vaccines have generated. You will also be introduced to the modern science of immunology and virology, examining the research that has resulted in the development of effective vaccines. Additionally you will explore current scientific theories and techniques for developing new vaccines and enhancing their durability. Finally, this course will investigate the complex ethical and policy issues that vaccines continue to generate. What is the nature of compulsory measures for vaccination; vaccine hesitancy and skepticism; and anti-vaccination movements? What are the moral and ethical principles for ensuring equitable access to vaccines in local communities, nations, and globally? The course will encourage a broad interdisciplinary exploration of vaccines to inform our current understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic, while also examining critical issues in science, life-saving technologies, questions of individualism and the good of the community, as well as fundamental issues of global health equity.