Last Updated on January 7, 2021 by Neil Mackengie
One day in the year 1768, a young milkmaid attended a Gloucestershire doctor’s surgery for advice. Smallpox, the dreaded scourge of the country at that time, was mentioned in the waiting-room conversation, and milder form. milkmaid remarked that she could not catch it, as she had already had cowpox, a disease with symptoms similar to those of smallpox, though in very much.
The importance of her remark did not escape the attention of Edward Jenner, a young medical student who was present. The idea occupied his mind constantly during the completion of his medical studies in London. After qualifying, he returned in 1773 to practise medicine in his native village in Gloucestershire, and deroted his spare time in the ensuing twenty years to investigation and research, He found that the milkmaid had been right: those people who had had cowpox very rarely caught smallpox.
In 1796, he made his first experiments, with the purpose of giving people a light dose of cowpox in order to ensure their subsequent protection from the horrible plague of smallpox. In 1798, he made his first really crucial test. Four children who had been inoculated with cowpox were now inoculated with smallpox. To his great joy, not one of them caught the dreaded disease. He had made the great discovery of vaccination, which today has almost completely wiped out this then frequently fatal disease.
Vaccination at first had many opponents, but eventually, its value became so firmly established that vaccination for foreigners entering nearly all civilized countries is now compulsory. Vaccination is available to everyone in-country, and it is usually first performed when a child is about fifteen months old.
What Was The First Vaccine For?
The smallpox vaccine, introduced by Edward Jenner in 1796, was the first successful vaccine to be developed.