Those of us who work in science have been amazed at the public’s fear of the COVID vaccine. We shouldn’t be. When the polio vaccine came out, the same thing happened. Before that, there were similar public reservations about the smallpox vaccine. Now we may have a new vaccine for people to worry about – a poison ivy vaccine.
Every year up to 50 million Americans struggle with poison ivy infections. Ten percent of lost-time injuries among U.S. Forest Service workers are due to poison ivy. Here in Michigan, birds immune to poison ivy spread it by eating the berries and dispersing the seeds. As the saying goes, “One man’s (or bird’s) meat is another man’s poison.
Studies at Duke University indicated that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air controls how much urushiol the poison ivy plant produces. Urushiol causes the rash that so many of us experience when we contact the poison ivy plant. So the increase of carbon dioxide in the air causes climate change and makes poison ivy worse.
Research is now on the verge of producing a poison ivy vaccine. The compound called PDC-APB injected as a vaccine every year or two could prevent poison ivy misery. The University of Mississippi developed the vaccine, and Hapten Sciences has licensed it. The compound has passed initial safety tests in humans and will be undergoing controlled effectiveness trials.
The painful rash from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac may become a thing of the past. God has put into the creation materials that can help humans avoid poison ivy problems and given humans the intelligence to discover them. You can be sure that some people will circulate misinformation about the poison ivy vaccine. However, as one who has been hospitalized three times with poison ivy experiences, I will be in line for the vaccine when it is available.
— John N. Clayton © 2021
Reference: Scientific American, September 2021, page 24.