Vaccination and Eradication of Smallpox

Powerful Essays
The Vaccination and Eradication of Smallpox

Smallpox, a disease caused by the variola virus, has devastated humanity for many centuries. Because of its high mortality rate, civilizations around the world sought to protect themselves from this disease. Throughout the 1700's, these protective methods became more sophisticated, and led up to Edward Jenner’s vaccination method in 1796. Indeed, the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and the Agency for International Development began a joint program to eradicate smallpox in 1967. It utilized methods of mass vaccination, surveillance, and containment. The endeavor was successful, and in 1980, WHO officially declared the eradication of smallpox.

Since 1000 B.C., the world had been plagued by the variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox. The disease has a 30% mortality rate (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2004). Consequently, it was a great victory for humankind when the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the eradication of smallpox from the world. The smallpox vaccine was the first vaccine ever developed, and the eradication was the first successful eradication of a disease. Therefore, it is very important for society to study the processes that led to the vaccination and eradication of smallpox.

Inoculation, a process that offered protection from smallpox, can be dated back to 1000 B.C. In China, the smallpox scabs were powdered and blown into noses, and in India, pus was rubbed into skin lesions to immunize the healthy individuals against future infections. Throughout Asia and Great Britain, inoculation was also frequently practiced (History and Eradication of Smallpox, n.d., p.2).

Inoculation methods improved over time. Originally, ...

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World Health Organization. (n.d.). The World Health Organization Smallpox Eradication Programme. In WHO smallpox eradication programme. Retrieved July 20, 2006, from University of Toronto Web site:
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