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24. How did babies survive when there were no vaccines a long time ago?
They didn’t. Until the discovery of microbial pathogens led to understanding of the importance of hygiene and to development of vaccines and antibiotics, about half of children would predecease their parents.
My dissertation addressed 16th- and early 17th-century English and Continental history. In the course of the research, I learned this to be the case. If you reached adulthood, you were pretty tough. If you were female and you survived the endless pregnancies to which you were subject, you were extremely tough. Most people who lived long enough to have families saw about half of their children die, many in infancy and early childhood. Large numbers of women died in childbirth or from infections following on delivery.
People who imagine they can do without vaccines delude themselves. Most of us would not want to go back to those particular good old days.