Pandemic Special: Milkmaids, Harem girls, and the History of the Smallpox Vaccine

Smallpox was a highly contagious, deadly disease which likely first appeared around the 3rd century BCE in Egypt. From then on, it followed trade routes and colonization, decimating populations in many countries. The development of the smallpox vaccine can be traced back many centuries, to people in India, China, West Africa, and the Ottoman Empire who used a technique known of variolation to inject healthy people with pus from those afflicted by smallpox. In the late 18th century in England, Dr. Edward Jenner popularized and advocated for the injection of cowpox cells to immunize humans against smallpox, leading to the eradication of the disease by 1980.

Crowdfunding site for Dr. Jenner’s House Museum and Garden


Princesses, Slaves, and Explosives: The Scandalous Origin of Vaccines by Kiona Smith-Strickland, Gizmodo

Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes who fought them by Jennifer Wright

COVID-19 May Permanently Shutter Museum Devoted to Vaccination Pioneer (Smithsonian)

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