In the not-too-distant future, the United States and other nations will have a vaccination available, thankfully, for COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.5 million people and altered millions of more lives.
But besides the issue of who will get the vaccination first looms another question: Who will be willing to get it?
Debates about the value and efficacy of vaccines — as well as the socioeconomics of those who will get them and those who won’t — have raged throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.
Such a debate took place in the early 1900s in Utah over the smallpox vaccine, dividing prominent community members, leaders and Latter-day Saints, including top church authorities and the editor of the church-owned Deseret News.
On this week’s podcast, Ben Cater — who teaches history at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and has written about the religious politics at play in public health during the Progressive Era in Utah — revisits that period and how it may parallel our current times.
As Cater noted, in a quote often attributed to Mark Twain: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”