EP.50: A Short History Of Vaccines. Dr. Paul Offit On Skepticism, Risk, and Medical Innovation

There are no risk free choices, there are only choices to take different risks, and your goal is to take the lesser risk – Paul Offit 

On this episode we cover a bit of the biography of vaccines, dovetailing into the current state of vaccination around the globe. 

My guest on this podcast is Dr. Paul Offit, a world renowned expert and medical pioneer in the field of immunology and virology.  He is a professor in the division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of Vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC, credited with saving hundreds of children’s lives every day. Dr. Offit is also currently a member of the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee and is a founding advisory board member of the Autism Science Foundation and the Foundation for Vaccine Research. His awards and citations are too numerous to list here so see the resources link at bottom. 

Paul is not only an expert of great renown, he is also very generous and extremely passionate about public health – and it comes through. 

Vaccination is widely considered one of the greatest medical achievements of modern civilization. Please listen as Paul explains why that is so. 

We covered a range of topics including:

  • The Ming dynasty, ‘variolation’ and smallpox
  • Powdered pustules and other Chinese precursors 
  • The 18th Century and the founding of vaccinology in the West 
  • Jonas Salk and the first successful polio vaccines 
  • Childhood immunizations
  • Rotavirus and the RotaTeq vaccine
  • Recombinant DNA  flu vaccines
  • The new mRNA era of vaccines 
  • Vaccine risks then and now
  • Vaccine controversy and hesitancy throughout history 
  • Overview of the current COVID-19 vaccines, Delta and what’s next
  • Addressing those who want (more time) to wait before getting a COVID vaccine
  • Who should, and should not, get the vaccine 
  • FDA timelines, approvals, and licensure 


Resources / Links


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