The Smallpox Vaccine Was First Tested on May 14, 1796

The Smallpox Vaccine Was First Tested on May 14, 1796

On this day in 1796, a country doctor was coming up with a cure that would save millions of lives!

Just 20 years after the United States was founded, a serious illness threatened to take it out. Fortunately for us – and for people around the world – on May 14th, 1796, English doctor Edward Jenner was performing a test.

Jenner was a country doctor from Gloucestershire, and he spent time with milkmaids while in medical school.  He noted that these women had been exposed to a disease called cowpox and never contracted smallpox. Jenner connected the dots and on that fateful day in May, scratched fluid from a cowpox blister into the skin of James Phipps.

A blister rose on the spot, but no further symptoms exhibited. About six weeks later, Jenner inoculated Phipps with smallpox matter, yet Phipps didn’t contract the disease. Jenner had discovered the smallpox vaccine!

Who would have thought that a country doctor observing milkmaids would cure a disease that had killed millions? Thanks to Jenner, we not only have a smallpox vaccine, but we also built the foundation to create other vaccines for polio, measles, tetanus, and more!

As a proud member of a local Rotary chapter, I’ve seen first-hand what the polio vaccine has been able to accomplish around our world.  Rotary International made the pledge in the mid ‘80’s to eradicate polio on the planet.  An ambitious goal, especially at the time, as there were 350,000 cases of polio every year.  The eradication is nearly accomplished.  At the present moment, only Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan have reported cases of polio, less than 1,000 in the entire world, but still in need of being obliterated from the face of the Earth.

I was fortunate to travel to India with fellow Rotarians to personally administer the polio vaccine.  It was a humbling experience to be part of a team that was helping to remove polio from India.  India has been polio-free for several years now – it works!

When this is accomplished, it will be the second disease in the world to have been eradicated. Smallpox being the first.  Let’s take a moment to reflect on our abundance and wellness and work towards this goal in whatever ways we are able.

Don’t forget to tune into the latest The Maria Sanchez Show program, Shadow Politics, with Senator Michael D. Brown every Sunday at 4:00 p.m. PDT/7:00 p.m. EDT.

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