Edward Jenner


Edward Jenner, a British Doctor, theorized that if a person was exposed to cowpox they would not contract smallpox thus laying the foundation for common vaccination.


Jenner was born on May 17, 1749 to Rev. Stephen Jenner of Glouchestercounty. By the time Jenner reached five, he was orphaned and was largely looked after by his Aunt Deborah. By the time had reached 13 it was decided that he would practice medicine and he became an apprentice to Dr. Daniel Ludlow, a surgeon near Bristol.


In 1770, He became a house pupil of John hunter, a London surgeon, and anatomist; a long lasting friendship sprang up from their time together lasting until Hunters Death in 1793. Jenner who had always loved nature was asked once to arrange the botanical specimens of Mr. Joseph Banks, later Sir Joseph Banks the president of the Royal Society, who had returned from an expedition with Captain Cook. He must have done a good job because according to some accounts he was offered the post of naturalist on Cook’s next expedition.


In 1770, he returned to his hometown of Berkley to set up his own Medical Practice. He had experience from his long training in practice. To this day, some say that Jenner was not a “Doctor” per se because he had not qualified for a doctorate but he did later receive one from St. Andrews University and in 1813 by diploma from Oxford University.


The eighteenth century was one plagued by small pox epidemics that could pop up anywhere leaving behind the pockmarked faces of its victims, if they survived. During the second half of the eighteenth century, the practice of inoculation began to take root to prevent small pox for no mother counted her child safe until after smallpox had passed them over. The theory went that if a child was inoculated with a mild form of the dreaded disease that it would be less of a risk to have a mild form of it than a full strength form of it that could kill it. When the practice of inoculation increased in 1738, no one could escape the fact that the inoculation was very often not mild and many died from it. Frequent side effect often accompanied it such as sever damage to the heart, brain, eyes, and other vital organs. Later in 1840, the practice became illegal.


While apprenticed to Dr. Ludlow Jenner heard that a young girl claimed that she could not contract smallpox because she had had cowpox, a much milder form of smallpox; this started the wheels to start spinning in Jenner’s mind. In Jenner’s later practice, he discovered that people that had had cowpox could not be inoculated. As he went on, he became increasingly convinced that cowpox could give complete immunity to smallpox. However, the thought itself was absurd because many a doctor knew that smallpox did not even always give immunity for itself.


Jenner then set out show that cowpox protected against smallpox. It is one thing to prove that cowpox gave immunity against smallpox. It is quite another to set out to show that cowpox could be transmitted from person to person for vaccination.


On 14 May 1796, Jenner inoculated an eight-year-old boy, James Phipps, with cowpox. Two months later Jenner inoculated the boy with smallpox but it was unsuccessful, the first vaccination had been successful. Jenner wrote a paper on it and submitted it to the Royal Society but it was refused. He later added more, calling it An Inquiry into the Causes and effects of the Variolae Vaccinae, and published it. In London, he searched for volunteers but finding none, he left and gave Henry Cline the vaccine. Cline used it, though not for its intended use, and found that his patient was immune to smallpox thus vaccinations began to spread.


A fashionable doctor tried to steal the credit from Jenner but was unsuccessful and Jenner was asked to inoculate a whole regiment, which he did. After that, the practice of vaccinations spread rapidly.


In 1802 And 1806 Jenner was granted 10,000 pounds and 20,000 pounds to continue his work. After attending a patient suffering from a stroke, Jenner himself died of a stroke before his patient did.


In a letter, he wrote, Jenner said, “Honors pour upon me but honors