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Edward Jenner’s Vaccination

60 second histories

This video covers:  A description by Edward Jenner of the experiment he carried out to develop his vaccination against smallpox 

Imagine my surprise when at Berkley, I was trying to inoculate people against smallpox, but most refused to have it done. I was puzzled by this and discovered that local farmers believed they would not catch smallpox because they had already caught a mild disease called cowpox, which they believed made them immune to the illness. I had a look into this and discovered that milkmaids, who often caught cowpox, were indeed less likely to catch smallpox! I wondered then if I had stumbled onto a new method of preventing the disease. I carried out an experiment by taking a sample of pus from dairymaid Sarah Nelmes, who was infected with the cowpox. I inserted the sample into two cuts on the arm of a healthy eight-year-old boy, James Phipps. Several days later he complained of a slight headache and was restless that night but was perfectly well the next day. To see if my experiment had worked I inoculated him with smallpox pus but he caught no disease. Several months later I repeated the procedure, and still no disease followed.
Medicine & Health
Key people
Medicine & health
Edward Jenner
Key words: 
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