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The First Vaccine

Allyson Poska (University of Mary Washington)

There’s been a lot of coverage about the challenges of distributing the Covid-19 vaccine. How do we get it to distant areas? How do we use a whole vial before it expires? What about the special refrigerators needed to keep it cold enough? But these problems seem minor compared to the very first vaccine distribution in the early 1800s. Historian Allyson Poska shares the story of 29 orphan boys who crossed the Atlantic Ocean as live incubators for the smallpox vaccine and what lessons we can learn from this early campaign. 

15 mins

Learning from the 1918 Flu

Tom Ewing (Virginia Tech)

Mask debates, a rush for a vaccine, and closed schools–not much has changed in the years since the 1890 and 1918 influenza epidemics. Tom Ewing takes us back to historical outbreaks to see what we can learn about today’s Covid-19 pandemic.

13 mins

What’s Your Covid Number?

Carrie Dolan (William & Mary)

Navigating social lives in the time of Covid can be awkward. How do you tell your friends, ”No, I won’t be joining you at that restaurant, but yes, we can take a walk in the park together” without having to explain or excuse? Carrie Dolan says we need to get better at communicating our personal risk levels during the pandemic or we won’t be able to stop it.

11 mins

Vaccine Misinformation Online

Jeanine Guidry (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Like most users, Jeanine Guidry clicked through Pinterest for gardening tips and decorating ideas. But she also found a surprising abundance of vaccine conspiracy theories. Guidry studied the social media platform’s role in the anti-vaccination movement, and now she’s looking at the spread of COVID-19 misinformation online.

13 mins

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