A Short History of Vaccines


This article could also be entitled, "Whatever Happened to them?" This refers to the people who were the patients who tested the first vaccines.

The term "vaccine" is derived from "vacca," the Latin word for cow. This is because the material of cowpox (a disease affecting the udders of cows), was injected into people to protect them against an attack of smallpox. (This information is from Black's Medical Dictionary.)

The idea of vaccinations to prevent disease dates back to 1796. In that year Edward Jenner, a British physician, noted that dairymaids who had caught cowpox (a minor disease), could not catch smallpox (a fatal disease). Jenner then took diseased matter from the hand of Sarah Nelmes, a local dairymaid who had become infected with cowpox, and inserted this matter into the cut arm of James Phipps, a healthy eight-year-old boy. The boy then caught cowpox. Forty-eight days later Jenner injected smallpox matter into the boy. It had no effect. This was the first recorded vaccination. (This information comes from World Book Encyclopedia.)

The list of mandatory vaccinations in the United States include: polio, diphtheria, measles, rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, pertussis. Kids receive 21 vaccines before age 1.
Ever wonder what happened to the famous young man who was the guinea pig that started the vaccination rage.
James Phipps, the eight-year-old boy initially vaccinated by Jenner in 1796, was revaccinated 20 times, and died at the age of twenty. Jenner's own son, who was also vaccinated more than once, died at twenty-one. Both succumbed to tuberculosis, a condition that some researchers have linked to the smallpox vaccine.

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