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Vaccination

Can We Find a Middle Ground on Measles Vaccination?

One side says mandatory vaccination is the best way to protect children from deadly diseases. The other side says vaccinations often cause the diseases they are supposed to prevent, and can sometimes even trigger autism. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, has tried to strike a middle ground by calling for balance between public health concerns and parental choice. But is a middle ground even possible?

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A Brief History of Vaccination

The practice of inoculation--exposing a person to a mild case of an illness to build up an immunity--is possibly a thousand years old. Some evidence exists that 11th century Chinese physicians may have prevented the spread of smallpox by exposing people to pus from the sores of smallpox victims. There was a slight risk of actually giving a person smallpox through this form of inoculation, but it was a smaller risk than the much greater exposure they could get during an epidemic.

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