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History of Vaccines
In Forum I - Vaccines
anya
Dec 25, 2018
Vaccines have been around for over 200 years! The first vaccine was invented by a British physician, Edward Jenner, in 1796. Jenner observed that milkmaids who had previously contracted cowpox were also immune to smallpox. Cowpox and smallpox are related diseases. The body of a sufferer of the far less damaging cowpox produces the same sort of immune response necessary to deal with smallpox, thus guaranteeing future immunity. In fact, the word Jenner invented, "vaccination," comes from the latin word for cow. This discovery made Jenner something of a celebrity in England. He went on to receive almost a million dollars in today's money from Parliament. Originally "vaccination" could only protect one from smallpox, but now the term "vaccine" has expanded to encompass immunization to a variety of diseases. Although variolation was the precursor to vaccination, variolation was by far an inferior method--potentially causing death. Furthermore, as the subject was still being inoculated with smallpox, the disease could spread to people around them, which meant entire communities would all have to be variolated at one time. Because of this, even by the year of Jenner's discovery, roughly 400,000 people were dying from smallpox each year in Europe alone. Smallpox was a devastating illness, causing death in over a third of its victims--and blindness in third of those who survived. Survivors also faced heavy scarring. The discovery of the smallpox vaccine definitively changed the world. By the year 1800, over 100,000 Europeans had already been vaccinated, and in the 20th century smallpox had been eradicated for good. This gives a more lengthy history of vaccination: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.24.3.611 This is a really informative (and interesting) podcast about how the smallpox vaccine was brought to the Americas from Europe, as well as more details about the history of the smallpox vaccine: https://www.futilitycloset.com/2015/01/19/podcast-episode-42-the-balmis-expedition-using-orphans-to-combat-smallpox/
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anya

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