Lymphatic System

Specific Defenses

What was the earliest known vaccination?

In 1796 Edward Jenner (1749–1823) inoculated a young boy with cowpox contracted by a dairymaid. (The word “vaccination” is derived from the Latin vacca, meaning “cow,” in recognition of this fact). Several weeks later, the young boy was variolated with smallpox. Variolation was a procedure in which an individual was given smallpox by scratching into their skin scab material from someone infected with the disease. The young boy did not develop smallpox. Jenner was convinced that vaccination against disease was possible.


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