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Infectious disease expert recalls frightening epidemics of childhood diseases before he helped isolate rubella virus in 1960s

Paul Parkman, MD, right, is shown in the 1960s with Harry Meyer Jr., MD, inspecting a culture of the rubella virus. They were part of a research team whose work led to a successful vaccine against rubella, or German measles. (file photo)

Paul Parkman, MD, right, is shown in the
1960s with Harry Meyer Jr., MD, inspecting a
culture of the rubella virus. They were part of
a research team whose work led to a
successful vaccine against rubella, or
German measles. (file photo)

When physician scientists created a vaccine for rubella in the 1960s, people happily sought to be protected from the disease, also known as German measles. They remembered how rubella was responsible for miscarriages and birth defects, explains Paul Parkman, MD, a 1957 Upstate graduate who was part of the team that isolated the rubella virus. He went on to develop an antibody test and a vaccine. Parkman said that "With the exception of safe drinking water, vaccines have been one of the most successful medical interventions of the 20th century." Regarding recent outbreaks of measles, he notes that the vaccines are not effective if people are not vaccinated.

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