First Deliberate Vaccination Attempt


On May 14, 1796, Edward Jenner took pus from a cowpox pustule and inserted it into a young boy in the first deliberate attempt of vaccination. Through his research, he determined that this would protect the boy from deadly smallpox.

Early in his life, Edward Jenner apprenticed to a local surgeon. Then he went to London to finish his training. He returned to his hometown to set up his business. He worked with smallpox and wanted to research a way to make people immune. An old wives tale talked about how dairymaids never had smallpox. The women that worked with cows had clear skin that testified to their resistance to smallpox.


As Edward Jenner researched this tale, he noticed that most dairymaids at some point ended up with cowpox. This disease started on cows and would transfer to the maids that worked with them. A fairly mild illness, it did not last long or cause many difficulties. Jenner realized that somehow the cowpox protected them from smallpox.

He then started more in-depth research into this phenomenon. He recorded how many people who had cowpox at one time did not have smallpox even when surrounded by it. Then he took it a step further. In 1796, he took pus from a dairymaid who had cowpox and put it in a small cut of a young boy. Then he watched the boy. The boy had a restless night but then seemed well. To continue his test he then inserted in the boy smallpox. Nothing happened, the boy did not develop smallpox.

With this information and research, Edward Jenner submitted a paper about it. He called what he did vaccination after the Latin word “Vacca” for a cow. Though ridiculed, Jenner did more experiments and proved his work. Eventually, his vaccine became standard. His work help showed that we could prevent certain illnesses. Thus started us receiving vaccinations. Just remember that when you go for your vaccination, it all started with one man and a cow.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.