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The History of Vaccines

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused and generated incalculable losses. Socially and economically the world has seen a tremendous shift in the way we go about our day to day. Worldwide we have seen staggering numbers of deaths in a short period of time. The emergence of new diseases generates the need to create vaccines to protect society. In this article we will learn about the history of vaccines and what you need to know about them to protect yourself and your loved ones.

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a compound that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce antibodies to a specific disease, protecting the body from that virus .

Vaccination is a simple, safe and effective way to protect people against harmful diseases before they come into contact with them.

The creation of vaccines has required many years of research to obtain them as we know them today. 

Vaccine History

The history of vaccines dates back to the 7th century when buddhist monks ingested snake venom in order to be immune to its effects in case they were bitten by this species. 

Later in India, one of the methods used to combat diseases was to use the clothes of smallpox patients, which were impregnated with pustules and put them on children in order to generate antibodies.

During the 17th century in China, variolization (prophylactic inoculation of the benign smallpox virus) was practiced, which consisted of impregnating a piece of cloth with a bit of pus produced by smallpox and wrapping it around people to infect them in a benign way and generate antibodies.

Chronology of vaccine development


Edward Jenner (Father of the immunology)

Smallpox (Eradicated this disease worldwide)


Louis Pasteur

Rabies (First viral vaccine)


Albert Calmette y Jean-Marie Camille Guerin



Sawver, Kitchen y Lloyds

Yellow fever


Jonas Salk

1st inactivated influenza vaccine


Jonas Salk

Inactivated polio vaccine


David Smith 

Haemophilus influenzae


Michiaki Takahashi



Maupas y Hilleman

Hepatitis B

Thanks to these years of research. Today, there are more than 20 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization that offer protection against more than 26 infectious diseases.

Types of vaccines:

Methods in vaccine generation:

Complete virus or bacteria
Using fragments of the virus or bacterium that produce a response to the immune system.
Using the genetic material of the virus

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines use your body’s natural defenses to build resistance to specific infections and strengthen the immune system.

Vaccines train the immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when exposed to a disease. However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs such as viruses or bacteria, they do not cause disease or put you at risk for complications.

Actually, researchers continue to develop new types of vaccines and refine processes to produce quality products.

Looking to the Future

Scientists around the world are working to develop more than 130 new vaccines.

The most important are: 

  • Malaria and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) vaccines are the most urgent, due to the number of deaths caused by these diseases in developing countries.
  • Also Dengue fever and Ebola, which are parasitic diseases increasingly present in countries with extreme hot weather.

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Berdasquera, D. Cruz G., Suárez, C. (9 de agosto de 2021). La vacunación. Antecedentes históricos en el mundo

Centro de Asesoramiento sobre Inmunización de Nueva Zelanda (9 de agosto de 2021) Una breve historia de la vacunación

Centro de Control y Prevención de Enfermedades, (9 de agosto de 2021) Inmunización: Los básicos. Definición de términos.

Colegios de Médicos de Filadelfia.(10 de agosto de 2021) Diferentes tipos de vacunas

Organización Mundial de la Salud. (9 de agosto de 2021) Vacunas e inmunización. ¿Qué es vacunación?

Organización Mundial de la Salud, (10 de agosto de 2021) Los diferentes tipos de vacunas

Unidad Municipal de Higiene y Epidemiología. Centro Habana en Revista Habanera de Ciencias Médicas (Abril-junio 2007)


Vaccine, immunisation, vaccination, history, health, protect, takecare

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