Bob H. Reinhardt: The Fascinating Puzzlement over Smallpox Eradication

Whenever I mention that I have written a book about the eradication of smallpox, people usually look at me with equal parts fascination—“wow, that’s a great story to tell!”—and puzzlement—“Wait a second…smallpox? Eradicated? Really?” I love seeing this reaction. After more than six years of working on the topic, I sometimes forget that that’s exactly where I started. My initial reaction of familiarity with smallpox quickly gave way to confusion about the disease’s past and present. Continue Reading Bob H. Reinhardt: The Fascinating Puzzlement over Smallpox Eradication

Bob H. Reinhardt: Having the Vaccination Conversation

Parents sometimes hear about “routine childhood vaccinations,” but the current discussion about vaccines is anything but routine. In addition to pediatrician offices, the vaccination conversation is happening in unexpected places: the legislative halls of Oregon, California, and other states trying to stiffen childhood vaccination requirements; Twitter, where author Sherman Alexie invoked Native Americans’ historic experiences with deadly contagious diseases and railed against “superstitious, selfish anti-vaccination ***holes”; and late-night TV, where Jimmy Kimmel joked that parents in Los Angeles are “more scared of gluten than they are of smallpox.” Alexie’s vitriol and Kimmel’s barb invoke the history of smallpox and its eradication, a remarkable story that holds unexpected insights for today. Continue Reading Bob H. Reinhardt: Having the Vaccination Conversation