Jenner’s Legacy: Uncovering the Origins and Dissemination of Smallpox Vaccines in the Nineteenth to Twentieth Centuries
Globally, vaccination rates are in decline leading to the reappearance and resurgence of avoidable diseases such as measles, diphtheria and polio. Widespread misinformation on harmful side effects of vaccines are partially to blame for the decrease in vaccination rates, but the general public has also become complacent and has forgotten, or was never aware of, the enormous mortality and morbidity rates of these preventable diseases. As a scientific community, we must also consider our inability to fully explain the history of vaccination as one of the causes of public scepticism towards vaccination. This proposed research will investigate and illuminate the history and origins of vaccination against smallpox, the first and thus far only human disease eradicated through vaccination.