August is Nationa Immunization Awareness Month. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be exploring the history of immunizations, their value to the world, and how we can better spread the word for their safety and effectiveness.
Before we delve further into the jouney, lets understand what immunizations and vaccines are. The US Department of Health and Human Services defines the following:
- Vaccine is made from very small amounts of weak or dead germs that can cause diseases — for example, viruses, bacteria, or toxins. It prepares your body to fight the disease faster and more effectively so you won’t get sick.
- Immunization is the process of becoming immune to (protected against) a disease.
Now that we know what immunizations and vaccines are, we can venture into a taste of history for this edition.
There is evidence that variolations, also know as inoculations, were used by the Chinese around 1000 AD, as well as in Africa and Turkey. In 1796, Edward Jenner, English scientist and doctor, performed the world's first vaccination by inoculating a young boy with pus from a cowpox lesion. When exposed to small pox, the boy had no reaction.