A Shot in the Arm

Canada's Museum of Health Care looks at the history of the fight against deadly contagious diseases.

Written by Nelle Oosterom

January 13, 2015

The next time you line up for a flu shot or receive vaccinations prior to going on a trip, consider the situation of people a few generations back.

There was no vaccine against the Spanish flu of 1918–19, which killed an estimated 20 to 40 million people worldwide.

Until 1955, there was no vaccine against polio, which in Canada alone crippled tens of thousands of children in the first half of the twentieth century.

An effective vaccine against smallpox was developed in the late eighteenth century, but not before wiping out millions of Aboriginal people in North America.

The Museum of Health Care at Kingston, Ontario offer a fascinating look at Canada’s vaccine history with their online exhibit.

Check out the February-March 2015 issue of Canada’s History for the article titled “A Pox on Our Nation” about the impact smallpox had on Canada’s early history.

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