The Journey of Vaccination

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!



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.


… 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).


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!



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.

Imagine spending your weekend in this machine! How exciting……not.


The introduction of polio immunisation in 1955 has eradicated the disease from many regions of the world.

Polio 2

Prevalence of polio in 1988 vs 2014


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.


Yes, it was THAT contagious!

Thanks to Edward Jenner, this era is over.


Hepatitis cartoons, Hepatitis cartoon, funny, Hepatitis picture, Hepatitis pictures, Hepatitis image, Hepatitis images, Hepatitis illustration, Hepatitis illustrations

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.


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.



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!

Text References

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (US). The history of vaccine: timelines [Internet]. Philadelphia (PA): The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; 2011 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. Available from:

National Health Service (UK). The history of vaccination [Internet]. London (UK): National Health Service; 2014 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. Available from:

Plotkin SA, Plotskin SL. The development of vaccines: how the past led to the future. Nat Rev Microbiol [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2015 Mar 7];9(12):889-93. Available from: Medline

Immunization Action Coalition (US). Vaccine Timeline: Historic Fates and Events Related to Vaccines and Immunization [Internet].Saint Paul (MN): National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases; 2012 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. Available from:

Fact sheet: History of vaccine introduction [Internet]. Melbourne (VIC): Department of Health (AU); [updated 2015 Feb 11; cited 2015 Mar 7]. Available from:

Image References

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (US). The history of vaccine: timelines [Internet]. Philadelphia (PA): The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; 2011 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure], Early Chinese Inoculation: one way the Chinese may have practiced inoculation was by scratching matter from a smallpox sore into a healthy person’s arm. Available from: Available from:

BabyCenter. The story of smallpox, from variolation to vaccine [Internet]. San Francisco (CA): Baby Center L.L.C; 2010 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure], Ancient Times, Modern Method. Available from:

DeadState. This comic strip is the definitive smackdown to anti-vaxxers everywhere [Internet]. Los Angeles (CA): DeadState; 2014 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. Available from:

Allnurses. Iron Lung Wards [Internet]. Minnesota (MN):; 2014 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. Available from:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US). Global Health – Polio [Internet]. Atlanta(GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2014 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. Our Progress Against Polio. Available from: Vaccine Week: Success Stories[Internet]. Atlanta(GA):; 2009 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. Smallpox. Available from:

Jennermuseum. His Legacy: Jenner and the eradication of smallpox [Internet]. London (UK): Dr Jenner’s House; 2011 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. Jenner’s Legacy. Available from:

eMedicineHealth. Smallpox [Internet]. New York City (NY): WebMD; 2015 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. Adult with smallpox (variola major) with hundreds of pustular lesions distributed with more on arms and face than on trunk. Available from:

CartoonStock. Hepatitis Cartoons and Comics [Internet]. London (UK): CartoonStock; 2014 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. You’ve Got Hepatitis Bee. Available from:

VaccineNews Daily. FDA approves latest Gardasil HPV vaccine [Internet]. Chicago (IL): Vaccine News Daily; 2014 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. Available from:

The Cagle Post. Mike Keefe: Measles [Internet]. Santa Barbara (CA): Cagle Cartoon Inc; 2014 [cited 2015 Mar 7]. [Figure]. Measles. Available from:


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