Story of Immunization – The First Vaccine
Article written by :
Dr. Sinchan Bhattacharyya
Chief Executive – Medical Admin
History – Smallpox and its devastation occurred way back in the 18th century in Europe. It had affected all levels of the society claiming more than 4 lac lives annually and one third of the survivors were seen to have lost their vision. In ancient China and India, people followed a procedure of variolation where smallpox (variola) material taken from an infected patient or a recently variolated individual was inoculated to a healthy person in the hope that a mild but protective infection would result. The procedure was carried out by inserting or rubbing powdered smallpox scabs or fluid from pustules into superficial scratches made in the skin. Jenner, in his childhood had heard about these stories from his trainer and also heard a dairymaid say that she will never get infected with smallpox as she had already got infected with cowpox. His remembrance about the incident with the dairymaid and the story about variolation helped him to proceed towards the discovery of the world’s first vaccine. In modern times, we do not have to worry about smallpox, thanks to the remarkable work of Edward Jenner. His work is well known around the world and is regarded as the foundation of immunization.
We had started “from a scratch” in the first variolation method and then development of the first vaccine by Edward Jenner. Since then, medical science is going up by leaps & bounds in finding new and advanced techniques of vaccination to save lives across the face of the earth. We all know that, infectious diseases like malaria, chicken pox, pneumonia, cholera, influenza, etc have taken a toll on the world population during their onset, where many people had lost lives. Scientists, doctors and scholars have always come forward and created vaccines and immunization procedures to protect mankind from the virulent strain of the diseases.
What are vaccines and how do they work?
Vaccines are biological preparations which provide active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. Vaccines are made from weakened or killed form of the disease causing microorganism, its toxin or one of its surface proteins. When administered on a person, it stimulates the body’s immune system to recognise the agent as a threat and destroy it. Once the immune system has identified the external agent, a memory is automatically developed in the body which helps in destroying the same virulent agent whenever it enters our body even before the multiplication procedure can start. Vaccines reduce the risks of getting a disease by working with our body’s defence system to build protection. This explanation was first put forward by Edward Jenner in his presentation on smallpox vaccine.
Present scenario – At this juncture, in the 21st century, the world is in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic. Many lives have already been lost during this one year. But finally, vaccines have been prepared by scholars which are being administered to the general mass. Hence, please be sure to take your vaccine when your turn comes. COVID 19 vaccines are safe and will help your immune system develop protection against the strong virulent strain of the disease. You should also know that even after getting vaccinated, you must continue wearing a mask, maintain social distancing, avoid crowded places and wash hands frequently before touching your facial openings for the safety of the mass and for yourself. As per World Health Organisation, vaccination/immunisation is a key component of primary healthcare and an indisputable human right.
We will elaborate about the types of vaccines and also about the importance of vaccination for adults and children during the World Immunization week 2021. Hence please stay connected to our official Website, Blog site and Facebook page to know more about vaccines and their application.
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