“Saving lives is not easy. Sometimes, we don’t know how to prevent disease or death, which is tragic. But there are millions of lives we know exactly how to save; We can save them easily and cost effectively with vaccines“. – Bill Gates, 2011
Before we jump into the miracles behind vaccines, let’s have a brief overview on the journey of vaccination!
#1 DID YOU KNOW
The Chinese were the first to discover and use a primitive form of vaccination, called variolation. In the year 1000, children and adults were inoculated with dried scab material recovered from small pox patients, either by inserting it under their skin or by inhaling the powder. The concept of variolation soon spread to other countries around the world. While there was a risk of death from variolation, it led to lower mortality and morbidity rates associated with smallpox.
#2 DID YOU KNOW
“… the annihilation of the smallpox, the most dreadful scourge of the human species, must be the final result …” – Edward Jenner
Because variolation was used in ancient times in China, India or Persia, it is difficult to determine the origin of vaccination. But we do know that Edward Jenner was the first person who recorded and demonstrated vaccination in the western world. He is one of the most famous scientists in medical history and the so-named “Father of Immunology”. Many would consider Louis Pasteur to be the first immunologist, but Edward Jenner remains the first to reach scientific conclusions through carrying out that infamous experiment where he inoculated an 8 year old boy with cowpox matter from the hand of an English milkmaid to test a hypothesis (which resulted in the boy being protected against smallpox).
#3 DID YOU KNOW
Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary, was the first identified asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever; i.e. she carried the typhoid bacteria and spread them to others, but did not fall ill herself. When she passed away in 1938, Mary was officially blamed for 51 cases of typhoid fever, with 3 cases of mortality. Interestingly, “Typhoid Mary” is used today as a casual term to describe someone who spreads something undesirable!
#4 DID YOU KNOW
The first iron lung was used in 1928 to preserve breathing function in patients with acute polio. Patients could spend up to a week inside the iron lung! However, thanks to polio vaccination campaigns which have brought us closer than we have ever been to eradicating polio, the iron lung has mostly disappeared from modern medicine.
#5 DID YOU KNOW
The introduction of polio immunisation in 1955 has eradicated the disease from many regions of the world.
#6 DID YOU KNOW
Smallpox (pox= Latin word for “spotted”), was once one of the world’s most dreaded diseases. Caused by the variola virus, it is a contagious and fatal infectious disease with a death rate as high as 30%. There is no specific treatment for smallpox but it can be prevented via VACCINES! Small pox was officially declared eradicated in 1980, following the last natural case reported in Somalia in 1977. After the disease was eliminated from the world, routine vaccination against smallpox among the general public was stopped because it was no longer necessary for prevention.
#7 DID YOU KNOW
Hepatitis B vaccine is the first anti-cancer vaccine because it can prevent liver cancer.
Did you know #7.5 that chronic hepatitis B contributes to 80% of all liver cancers? Therefore, vaccination which protects individuals against hepatitis B infection can reduce the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma.
#8 DID YOU KNOW
Hepatitis B virus was previously referred to as “Australia Antigen” because it was named for an Aboriginal Australian blood sample which showed a positive reaction with an American haemophilia patient’s serum antibody.
#9 DID YOU KNOW
Ian Frazer, who spent 20 years in research looking for a prevention against cervical cancer, was named Australian of the Year in 2006 for developing a vaccine against Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a virus responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer cases.
#10 And lastly, did you know that vaccination saves millions of lives every year?
If you didn’t know that before, hopefully this post has opened your eyes to the power of vaccination! Stay tuned for our next blog post on the shocking statistics surrounding global vaccination,
and how YOU can help!
Don’t wait, VACCINATE!
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