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Cityscape: Smallpox, Vaccination and Civil Liberties in NYC

Smallpox, Vaccination and Civil Liberties in NYC

Smallpox, Vaccination and Civil Liberties in NYC Craig James, flickr

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The New-York Historical Society explores the history of vaccination in new exhibit.

It’s the kind of story that keeps moviegoers on the edge of their seats -- a lethal pandemic quickly spreads through a crowded city as the medical community races to stop it.  But, throughout history, health officials in New York City have had their own real-life dramas dealing with disease, including bouts with smallpox.  

Today there are vaccines available to protect adults and children against at least 17 diseases, but health officials sometimes struggle to convince people that vaccines are safe.  A new exhibit set to open Tuesday at the New-York Historical Society explores the history of vaccination, including the conflict between the need to manage disease in an urban environment and the rights of individuals to resist government interference in their private lives.  Joining us on this week's Cityscape is the exhibition’s team, as well as an immunization expert from the New York City Health Department.