A vaccine shot held by a medical professional.

A health care worker prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, during the start of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for those in higher risk categories, at a vaccine center in Overijse, Belgium, in February 2021.

Credit: Eric Lalmand, Pool via AP

Friday on Political Rewind: The COVID-19 vaccines have been crucial to protecting health as the latest surge of infections continues to roll across Georgia and other states. Despite their efficacy in limiting the spread and severity of illness, there are many stories of people who refuse to be vaccinated.

The challenges faced by today’s vaccines are not new. The history of vaccines dates back centuries. While the development of vaccines to protect against deadly diseases like smallpox, polio, yellow fever and others are among the greatest achievements in medical science, challenges confronted vaccine advocates throughout history.

Today, we explored the fascinating history of vaccines with one of the genuine heroes of global health, Dr. Bill Foege. Foege is a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and as a young public health doctor he devised and led the campaign that eradicated smallpox.


Dr. Bill Foege — Epidemiologist, former director of the CDC and co-founder of The Task Force for Global Health

Patricia Murphy — Columnist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution