Edward Jenner administers the first smallpox inoculation

14 May 2020  Thu

In the 18th Century, smallpox was a prolific and deadly disease. It was estimated that 60% of the population would catch smallpox and of this 20-30 % would die. Edward Jenner was an English surgeon who administers the world’s first vaccination as a preventive treatment for smallpox. Jenner is often called a Father of Immunology.

Edward Jenner was a doctor with wide interests in medicine and science. He was born in Berkley, Gloucestershire on 17th May 1749, the son of the vicar of Berkley. At 14 he was apprenticed to a local surgeon and later to a surgeon at St George's Hospital, London.

On May 14, 1796, Jenner took fluid from a cowpox blister and scratched it into the skin of James Phipps, an eight-year-old boy. A single blister rose up on the spot, but James soon recovered. On July 1, Jenner inoculated the boy again, this time with smallpox matter, and no disease developed. The vaccine was a success. Doctors all over Europe soon adopted Jenner’s innovative technique.

The Gambia, as well as a number of other countries, issued a stamp to honor this great physician. The 1-dalasi Gambia stamp issued on December 12, 1989, pictures Jenner at right and a physician administering the vaccine at left.

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