The history of vaccines

Believe it or not, attempts at vaccination go back hundreds of years! Check out the timeline below to learn more about the history of vaccines.

English physician Edward Jenner conducts experiments using cowpox to protect people against smallpox. His work is viewed as the first attempt to control an infectious disease in a way other than by spreading the disease.
Jenner publishes his findings, and was able to bring vaccination to the attention of a wide medical audience.
The French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur discovers that even weakened cholera bacteria are enough to create immunity to cholera.
Louis Pasteur develops the first human vaccine against rabies.
The idea to use killed bacteria/viruses to vaccinate against disease emerges when Americans Daniel Elmer Salmon and Theobald Smith publish their work on a heat-killed bacterial vaccine against cholera. Their work ultimately leads to the development of vaccines for typhoid, cholera, and plague.
Émile Roux, a French physician, bacteriologist and immunologist, and Alexandre Yersin, a Swiss-born physician and bacteriologist, discover that some types of bacteria produce toxins, and that these toxins cause illness. Their discovery ultimately leads to the first “toxoid” vaccines.
The virus that causes yellow fever is discovered, leading to the development of a yellow-fever vaccine.
Wilson Smith, Christopher Andrewes, and Patrick Laidlaw isolate the influenza A virus. Vaccines against influenza A are developed toward the end of the decade.
The “golden age” of vaccine development begins as innovative new techniques are discovered for growing vaccine viruses.
Clinical studies of the new live rabies vaccines show that they can help protect humans from rabies with few side effects.
The latter half of the 20th century sees an explosion in vaccine development, including vaccines for bacterial meningitis and yellow-fever.
To date, there are vaccines for over 20 different diseases, and over 50 vaccines are available in the US.

Widespread use of vaccines has eliminated or nearly eliminated some diseases in the US since the turn of the 20th century.

Questions about vaccination
Common questions about vaccination

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