Did you know the first vaccine was developed 222 years ago? In 1796, Edward Jenner vaccinated a 13-year-old boy with cowpox. This is a weaker form of smallpox and was discovered to make the boy immune to the viral disease. As vaccines have advanced they have become a crucial part of keeping societies safe from harmful viruses and infections. Although there is some controversy, the vast majority of medical professionals and scientists do encourage patients to be vaccinated whenever possible. Did you know these interesting facts about vaccines?
- White blood cells in the human immune system have the capacity to remember viruses and bacteria that they have encountered before. Vaccines make use of this property by introducing similar, non-threatening versions of a disease in order to teach your body how to fight the real thing.
- Vaccines can be attributed to eradicating smallpox and rinderpest worldwide. Other diseases such as polio and rubella are close to eradication.
- Vaccines are one of the oldest known medical treatments, older than antibiotics or anesthesia.
- There are two forms of vaccines. “Live attenuated” vaccines contain a weaker form of the same disease, while “inactivated” vaccines are made from the dead virus itself. Because the live attenuated form, although more effective, requires cold storage, some places in the world opt to use the dead version.
- Vaccines prevent the spread of a disease as long as a majority percentage of the population have been inoculated. When this percentage has been achieved, it is called “herd immunity” because the immune majority prevent the disease from spreading, protecting the non-vaccinated minority.
- Adverse reactions to vaccination are rarer than those occurring from the use of the most common children’s medications.
- According to a 2014 study, 85% of Americans who elected not to receive the measles vaccination did so for religious, philosophical, or personal reasons.
- The flu virus can be deadly for children with certain preexisting medical conditions. A recent study found that the flu vaccination cut the threat of flu-associated death for these children by 51%.
- Smallpox, a disease capable of mass outbreaks and a 30% death rate, inspired the first modern vaccination method.
- Most vaccines contain less than a few milligrams of infected material. In order to be effective, a vaccine only has to introduce enough of a disease to attack the lymph system for the body to develop immunity.
Credit: Jerry Martey