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The Great American Vaccine Debate (with Ken Burns)

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When he wasn’t busy taming electricity and being a Founding Father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was encouraging inoculations to combat the smallpox pandemic of the 18th century. Franklin bitterly regretted not inoculating his 4-year-old son, Francis, who died from smallpox when an outbreak hit Philadelphia in 1736. Andy talks to filmmaker Ken Burns, whose new PBS documentary on the founding father comes out April 4, about Franklin’s role during the smallpox pandemic, how he balanced his libertarian views with scientific and public health reasoning, and whether Franklin would support a COVID-19 vaccine mandate if alive today.


Keep up with Andy on Twitter @ASlavitt and Instagram @andyslavitt. 


Follow Ken Burns @KenBurns on Twitter.


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