Amongst all the developments in human medicine, vaccines are probably the single most effective intervention for preventing life-threatening diseases, but are not without risks. The first vaccine to be developed has eliminated the deadly smallpox virus from the globe and the polio vaccine will soon put an end to poliomyelitis. Vaccines can have side effects, but the unproven claims linking the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism and human papilloma virus vaccine with chronic fatigue syndrome have been shown to be groundless, yet misleading information about these and other vaccines persists in the media. US President Trump has added to this by saying that he believes that children get too many vaccines and that vaccines are harmful and can cause autism. He has reputedly appointed vaccine critic Robert F. Kennedy Jr, nephew of John F. Kennedy, to head a commission on vaccine safety.
Prof Kingston Mills, of the School of Biochemistry and Immunology, TCD, will present a public lecture on vaccines, where he will explain the scientific basis of vaccination, and how vaccines can prevent deadly infectious diseases and virus-induced cancer, but will also discuss the risks of developing unwanted vaccine-associated side effects. He will also describe current and future scientific developments in the area, including how vaccines are being designed and tested for the prevention or treatment of a range of cancers, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and even drug addiction.