A brief history of vaccines: smallpox to the present
Modern vaccine history began in the late 18th century with the discovery of smallpox immunization by Edward Jenner. This pivotal step led to substantial progress in prevention of infectious diseases with inactivated vaccines for multiple infectious diseases, including typhoid, plague and cholera. Each advance produced significant decreases in infection-associated morbidity and mortality, thus shaping our modem cultures. As knowledge of microbiology and immunology grew through the 20th century, techniques were developed for cell culture of viruses. This allowed for rapid advances in prevention of polio, varicella, influenza and others. Finally, recent research has led to development of alternative vaccine strategies through use of vectored antigens, pathogen subunits (purified proteins or polysaccharides) or genetically engineered antigens. As the science of vaccinology continues to rapidly evolve, knowledge of the past creates added emphasis on the importance of developing safe and effective strategies for infectious disease prevention in the 21st century.
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