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Image of the Week: Temple of Vaccinia

26 Feb, 2016

Temple of vaccina.jpg

With vaccines making headlines in the UK, we trace the history of vaccination back to its roots in our Image of the Week…

While it might not look like much, this Grade II listed 18th century hut in Berkeley, Gloucester was believed to be the site of the first public health service in the UK.

Estimated to have been built between 1796 and 1804, this image is of Edward Jenner’s thatched summer house, which was originally intended as a quiet place to read in his garden. Jenner, who is often described as the father of immunology, was an English doctor and the first to prove – through a series of experiments – that infecting a person with cowpox would make them immune to smallpox.

As the story goes, a local milkmaid had caught cowpox (a relatively mild disease) and developed blisters on her hand. Jenner extracted pus from her cowpox blisters, and used this to inoculate his gardener’s eight year old son against smallpox by inserting the pus into a cut. Showing no sign of full-blown infection, Jenner realised he had made a great discovery. Yet his results weren’t published until two years later in 1798, when he coined the term ‘vaccine’, originating from the Latin ‘vacca’ for cow.

After he began to understand how to vaccinate people against smallpox, he set out to protect the population from the disease by using his summer house as a surgery. From this summer house, Jenner began to vaccinate to poor free of charge, and so it became known as the ‘Temple of Vaccinia’. Jenner’s Temple of Vaccinia and his house in Gloucestershire are open to the public as part of the Jenner Museum.

Smallpox was finally eradicated in 1980, over 180 years after Jenner’s earlier work on a vaccination against the disease.

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. Over 100,000 high resolution images from our historical collections are now free to use under the Creative Commons-Attribution only (CC-BY) licence.


One Comment leave one →
  1. 26 Feb, 2016 11:54 am

    Reblogged this on msamba.

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