On this date in 1796, one of the most important and under appreciated events in human history happened.
Edward Jenner administered the first ever vaccination.
He was an English Doctor and Scientist. He was bold, and liked to take chances with experiments.
Smallpox had killed an estimated 300-500 million people in human history. People had no idea how to stop it. Usually their techniques only made things worse. They would try things like putting someone in a small room with a raging fire to try to burn it out, or they tried to bleed it out.
Milkmaids seemed to rarely contract small pox. They would become afflicted with “cowpox”, which wasn’t great but normally didn’t kill a person. The bout with cowpox made them immune to getting the deadly smallpox, but nobody realized it until Jenner.
223 years ago today, Jenner took matter from a cowpox blister and rubbed it into the skin of an eight year old boy. The boy got mildly sick, but survived. He then exposed the boy to smallpox, but the boy did not get sick.
The concept of vaccination had arrived! (Taken from Vaca, the Spanish word for cow)
Jenner was widely ridiculed during his time, especially by the clergy. Thirty years after his death, the British Government began issuing smallpox vaccinations to all of its citizens.
This is not only important because it stopped smallpox, but led to the development of all other vaccinations used in the world.
Too many teachers, including myself, focus too much on war and tragedy, not enough on triumph and achievement. Edward Jenner saved more lives than any human in the planets history, and his name should be known by all.
Thank you to all the scientists, researchers, Medical workers, and smart people out there. The rest of us owe you more credit.