During this pandemic year of 2020, I have had plenty of time for reflection about our COVID situation. I have heard over and over that this is an upside-down year and how people can’t wait to get back to “normal.”
Let me ask you this: have we lost touch with our past so quickly that we don’t realize that this pandemic was really a part of the normal cycle before “modern medicine” helped us vanquish childhood diseases such as measles, rubella, chicken pox, whopping cough and polio? These diseases would travel through villages, towns and cities every generation, hitting every person that did not have what we now know as antibodies to the diseases. And that every generation or two, somewhere in the world, we had an epidemic, and these epidemics sometimes turned into pandemics?
The Salk polio vaccine was introduced in 1955, and in less than 25 years domestic transmission of polio had been completely eliminated in the United States. From 1958 to 1977, the World Health Organization conducted a global vaccination campaign that eradicated smallpox, making it the only human disease to be eradicated.
I remember standing in line at my elementary school for my vaccinations: at the first station was a nurse who gave every child a sugar cube (polio); at the second station was a doctor who gave every child a shot (smallpox). During the 1960s, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines were all approved and doctors began giving these vaccines to children. This all happened in my lifetime folks! For younger generations, this happened during your parents’ or grandparents’ lifetimes. Ask them!
No only did our country suffer and die from viruses that ravaged our communities, but before the 20th century, many people died from bacterial infections due to wounds, injuries and even rotten teeth! Thanks to Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) who discovered modern day penicillin in 1928. He revolutionized medicine with the introduction of penicillin, which went on to pave the way for a multitude of antibiotics to be formulated, introduced and used during the 20th century, saving countless lives.
So during our pandemic year of 2020, I am incredibly thankful for modern medicine: the discovery of vaccines and antibiotics and the innovative minds that created these lifesaving treatments. Please do not take these life-saving treatments for granted. They are important. And I am grateful that the COVID vaccine is right around the corner.
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