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In the 15th century China, it was discovered that people who survived smallpox did not get the disease again.  The thought was to take smallpox scabs from individuals who experienced a mild case, dry the scabs, grind them into a powder, and blow them up the nostrils of healthy people! There are no actual results recorded but they were on the right track - take a weaker version of a virus and give it to healthy people so their immune systems can build antibodies to fight off the virus.

Modern vaccine history began in the late 18th century with the creation of the actual smallpox immunization by Edward Jenner, which led to substantial progress in preventing of infectious diseases with inactivated vaccines for multiple infectious diseases, including typhoid, plague, and cholera.

Here is a vaccine timeline for the past 225 years:

  • 1796 - Dr. Edward Jenner collected bits of cowpox pustule—the animal variant of smallpox - from the arm of a milkmaid named Sarah Nelmes and scratched it into the arm of an 8-year-old boy.

  • 1881 - French Biologist Louis Pasteur developed a successful vaccine against anthrax. Pasteur exposed anthrax pathogens to heat and oxygen to weaken, but not kill them.

  • 1885 - Pasteur developed a successful vaccine against rabies. Pasteur used the same approach he did for the anthrax vaccine.

  • 1914 - Pertussis, or whooping cough, vaccine is developed.

  • 1926 - Diphtheria vaccine is developed.

  • 1938 - Tetanus vaccine is developed.

  • 1948 - Pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines are combined and given as the DTP vaccine.

  • 1955 - Jonas Salk develops a break-through polio vaccine based on a dead poliovirus.

  • 1963 - Measles vaccine is developed.

  • 1967 - Mumps vaccine is developed.

  • 1969 - Rubella vaccine is developed.

  • 1977- The smallpox vaccine is no longer recommended. Because of the vaccine's success, the disease is considered eradicated.

  • 1981 - Hepatitis B vaccine is developed.

  • 1996 - Chickenpox vaccine is developed.

  • 1998-1999 - Rotavirus vaccine is developed.

  • 2000 - Hepatitis A vaccine is developed.

  • 2000 - Polio vaccine is no longer recommended. Because of the vaccine's success, the disease is no longer considered a threat.

  • 2001 - Pneumococcal vaccine is developed.

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