Plagued by Cures: The History of Vaccination - by Claire Porter (LW5)

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Almost everyone in the western world will have

heard of Edward Jenner, the country doctor from

Gloucestershire in England, who is commonly regarded as

the ‘father’ of vaccination.

The history books record that on 14 May 1796, after

investigating the ‘old wives tale’ that milkmaids who had

suffered from cowpox, a mild disease carried by cows, did

not get smallpox, Jenner performed his first successful

inoculation by scraping some cowpox from a lesion on a

milkmaid into the arm of 8-year-old James Phipps. A little

later he injected the same child in both arms with smallpox

matter taken from another patient’s blister. The child did

not develop smallpox. After injecting smallpox fluid into

another 10 people who had previously had cowpox, Jenner

published his findings in 1798 and the word ‘inoculation’ was

quickly replaced by ‘vaccination’ from the Latin word ‘vacca

meaning cow.


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First printed in Living Wisdom #5