The History of Vaccines


Components of a smallpox vaccination kit
James Gathany Content Providers(s): CDC [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Vaccines are used all over the world to prevent disease. Liz Waid and Nick Page tell the story of the first vaccine.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight.  I’m Nick Page.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Through history, a deadly disease called “smallpox” threatened people all over the world. In some areas this disease killed more than 10% of the population. And for children it was even worse. Smallpox killed as many as one in every three children. There was no cure. But then, on May 14th, 1796, one simple experiment changed the future of smallpox. The end of smallpox had begun.

Voice 2 

The story of smallpox is linked very closely to the story of vaccines, a kind of medical treatment that people still use today. Today’s Spotlight is on the history of vaccines.

Voice 1 

Smallpox is a very ancient disease. Scientists have found evidence that smallpox has been on the earth for thousands of years.

Voice 2 

Smallpox is a deadly disease. It spreads very easily. The first signs of the disease begin two to four days after infection. There is a very high fever. A person will begin to show a rash - this is raised red bumps on a person’s skin. These bumps are filled with infected liquid. After a time the bumps begin to dry and form skin over them - scabs. Some people do survive after having smallpox. But they often carry terrible permanent scars, or become blind. Many people do not survive.

Voice 1 

Long ago some doctors observed a very interesting thing about this deadly disease. If a person recovered from smallpox he would never get it again. This information led these doctors to try and prevent smallpox in very strange ways.

Voice 2 

Chinese doctors used a method called variolation to prevent people from getting smallpox. They used some of the infected liquids and scabs from people with smallpox. Healthy people breathed in these substances. The doctors hoped people would get a weaker form of smallpox. Then they would recover. If a person recovered the doctors released them. The person would never have a problem with smallpox again.

Voice 1 

No one understood exactly how or why this process worked. And the process was not very safe. Many people who were purposely infected with smallpox died. There was no exact way to control the effects of the disease. But many people did recover. So, doctors considered this method successful. When doctors used this method, fewer and fewer people died from smallpox. Doctors used this process for many years all around the world.

Voice 2 

But one doctor, Edward Jenner, had a different idea about preventing smallpox. Doctor Jenner lived in England. He worked as a doctor in the country. One day a young girl who worked with cows came to him. She had red bumps on her hands. Doctor Jenner identified the bumps as cowpox. The girl said one of her cows had cowpox.

Voice 1 

Cowpox is a very similar disease to smallpox. But it is much less severe. People with cowpox usually only develop a few red bumps on their hands. They feel sick for a short time. But cowpox does not usually cause death. And it is more common in cows than people.

Voice 2 

Doctor Jenner had heard many people in his village say that if a person got cowpox he would be immune to smallpox. He would never become infected with smallpox, a much worse disease. Doctor Jenner saw the chance to perform a very important experiment.

Voice 1 

Doctor Jenner understood that cows could pass cowpox to people. But he wanted to know if people could pass cowpox to other people. So, Doctor Jenner took some liquid from the girl’s cowpox infection. He infected a healthy boy with this liquid. The boy had never had cowpox or smallpox. The boy became sick from the girl’s cowpox. So, now Doctor Jenner knew that a person could pass cowpox to another person.

Voice 2 

After the boy recovered, Doctor Jenner wanted to know one more piece of information. He needed to know if the boy was now really immune to smallpox. So, Doctor Jenner injected the smallpox virus into the boy.

Voice 1 

Doctor Jenner was very happy when the boy did not become infected with the smallpox virus! Doctor Jenner tried to infect the boy with smallpox a few more times. But the boy remained healthy. Now Doctor Jenner knew that there was a safer way to stop people from getting smallpox.

Voice 2 

Today no good doctor would perform this experiment. Scientists believe that performing these kinds of experiments on humans is not moral. But back in 1796 this experiment was an important move in producing vaccines.

Voice 1 

Doctor Jenner named his method vaccination. Vaccination is the process of placing particular infected material, like the infected cowpox liquid, under a person’s skin to help protect a body against diseases.

Voice 2 

Doctor Jenner continued studying the link between cowpox and smallpox. For many years people were frightened of his new method. But after a time, people all across the world began to accept Doctor Jenner’s vaccination process. And in England, by 1853, all English people were required to be vaccinated by Doctor Jenner’s method.

Voice 1 

Today people use vaccines everywhere in the world. Vaccines keep many people healthy. Doctor Jenner’s ideas and research have affected people for all time.

Voice 2 

In the year 1801, Doctor Jenner dreamed of ending the smallpox virus forever. He dreamed of making it disappear. In 1967 the World Health Organization, the WHO, shared that dream. In that year they set out to get rid of smallpox. Teams of doctors travelled to areas with a high risk of smallpox. They vaccinated many people.

Voice 1 

Finally, in 1977, Doctor Jenner’s dream came true. Doctors identified the last natural case of smallpox. The man recovered. And since then no other natural case of smallpox has been found anywhere in the world.

Voice 2 

Vaccines have changed since Doctor Jenner’s time. Doctors understand more about infections, staying clean, and how the body works. Doctors have developed vaccines for many diseases that used to be a big problem. People are vaccinated against polio, typhoid, mumps, measles, rubella and many other sicknesses.

Voice 1 

Today many governments require their people to be vaccinated. The WHO works hard to vaccinate people in every country. They even vaccinate people who do not have enough money to pay for medical treatments. The WHO wants to make horrible diseases disappear completely.

Voice 2 

In 1988 the World Health Assembly declared that polio was its next target. It wants to make polio disappear. They have not achieved their goal yet. But vaccines will continue to change the world.

Voice 1 

The writer and producer of this program was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. Listen for more Spotlight programs about vaccines. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “The History of Vaccines”.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever gotten a vaccine? What was it for? Are vaccines available in your area?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
georgino
said on October 19, 2012

The medicine is advanced, but there are many diseases that requiere studios yet
It’s important to work in commonwealth with the population most of all in the poorer people
The governments should protect to the children with free medicines and help for their good nutrition.
thanks friends

Avatar Spotlight
tranductrinh
said on October 20, 2012

why don’t we have the share button on every listening ?

Robin Basselin's avatar
Robin Basselin
said on October 22, 2012

Tran Duc Trinh -

Thank you for your question.  Spotlight is working to update the website and include a sharing feature.  However, it will take time to finish the work.  Until it is ready, you can always share the programs on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/spotlightradio

Thank you,
Robin

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on August 09, 2016

Invention of vaccination represents the considerable advancement in overcoming different serious or even deadly diseases around the world. Unfortunately, vaccination often wasn’t available particularly to poor people in the past. Within recent years many serious diseases have been restrained successfuly and it disappeared completely. However, scientists have been discovering some negative secondary symptoms of vaccination recently. They have been reporting vaccination may cause different kinds of allergy or for example immunity weakening too.
Thanks Spotlight for another interesting topic!
Greetings!

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on August 12, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Friday 12, August 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid and Nick Page:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
Yes, I have.
I am going to answer it in the plural form because I took several vaccines to protect me against diseases. So, they were against wooping cough, diphtheria, meningitis, measles, tuberculosis, hepatitis A, B, and C. Tetanus, the flu, polio, typhoid fever, mumps, rubella, and smallpox. Finally, I want to thank to my mother by have taken me to receive the whole vaccines when I was a child in Pernambuco country side where I grew and I lived.
Therefore, thanks God, the scientists who developed the vaccines, my mother who taken me to take the vaccines, Doctors, and nurses from the hospital where I was taken to be vaccinated. Now I am immunized against these diseases. Here in Brazil, all the vaccines are available to protect everybody against diseases.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on August 12, 2016

Of course, the Vaccines were changed the world and it’ll continue changing it when the world become more healthy and more happiness even if the publication of the world will be increasing to a lot of…..
Actually that the Vaccines available in my country ( yemen) but by and thankful to the WHO none the Yemeni corrupted and failured governments.
No, I didn’t never have ever gotten a Vaccine and my health is very good, thanks God.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
bichlieu
said on September 12, 2016

i remmenber i had got vaccine 3 time time, first once i was born, sencond in primary school, third in secondary school, and i dont know what is vaccine, but i felt confidence after getting them.
In Vietnamese at the present, vaccine is available for protecting all people from dangerous deseases