While we are on the subject of Benjamin Franklin, I learned something which provides advice on another subject — vaccination! Benjamin fathered two children, a son Francis and daughter Sarah. Francis died at the age of 4 from small pox. Here is an excerpt from Franklin’s autobiography about his loss:
In 1736, I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by small pox taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of the parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that the safe should be chosen.
Vaccination from small pox became available in 1721. As with most vaccinations, we move slowly to adopt them and many losses happened along the way. Vaccination was a tough decision then and remains one now. None of us will see a case of small pox because vaccination ended that disease. Small pox became a pandemic from 1870 to 1875; at the time 30% of people who contracted small pox died from the disease. A worldwide campaign was launched in 1959 to end small pox, and by 1980 it was officially declared eradicated when the vaccine for it became worldwide.
I still have the scar from the small pox vaccination on my arm, but I am very happy to know it is there. Benjamin left us a very clear message which remains valuable today. For a vaccine opportunity near you text your zip code to 438829.