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What contribution did Edward Jenner make to medicine?

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Introduction

What contribution did Edward Jenner make to medicine? The person I have chosen to write about is Edward Jenner. He was born in 1749 and is famous as the first doctor to introduce and study the smallpox vaccine. I am interested by his work as it was the basis of the science of immunology, resulting in many medical advances, the benefits of which can be seen in medicine today. Smallpox is a virus spread through coughing, sneezing and physical contact with an infected person. Epidemics broke out in Britain every few years, resulting in many deaths. In the eighteenth century a method of inoculation was introduced to Britain. This reduced the chance of dying from smallpox, yet it carried with it many risks. ...read more.

Middle

He was then inoculated with smallpox matter, which was repeated again several months later, but no disease followed on either occasion. After completing the experiment 23 times, he came to the conclusion that 'cowpox protects the human constitution from the infection of smallpox'. Although Jenner was unable to prove his theory, his vaccination saved many lives. He recorded and published his findings himself as there was much opposition to vaccinations at first. This was because some people found it hard to accept anything new, especially when there was no explanation as to why it worked. Also, if his vaccinations proved to be a success, doctors would lose the income they received from providing inoculations. As well as this, some people saw the vaccination as dangerous. ...read more.

Conclusion

He was not put off by the 'less than enthusiastic' view of the public, choosing to record his findings personally in hope that they would one day be accepted and prove to be useful (which is what finally happened). Also, his work greatly contributed to later medical advances. It was the basis of immunology, which was to be pursued with success by Pasteur and others half a century later, helped by technological advancements. His observations had a large influence on the declaration of smallpox as an eradicated disease in 1980 by the World Health Organisation. In conclusion, Edward Jenner was a man who was able to make a large contribution to the advancement of medicine and prevention of death from smallpox. This, in my opinion, makes him a prominent and essential figure in history. ...read more.

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