In 1902, a smallpox outbreak infected thousands of people across the northeastern United States. That year, in Massachusetts alone, 2,314 people were infected, and 284 died. This was not unusual for early-twentieth-century Massachusetts: The smallpox vaccine had been invented more than a century earlier and had markedly reduced the incidence of the disease, but the diminished threat of illness motivated fewer people to opt for vaccination. City officials ...

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