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18 June 2014
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Myths and Legends
From myth to legend

Legend in his own lifetime

Far from the medical world welcoming Jenner and his new theory with open arms, he was ridiculed and ignored. He was forced to publish his first paper on the treatment privately in 1798, but was still ostracised by the London medical fraternity who could not believe that a cure, based on folklore, moreover discovered by a country doctor, could be taking notice of.

Having faith
Jenner needed more firm proof for his vaccine so he repeated the trial with many other children, including his own 11-month-old son.
Finally, he published all his findings into one booklet, known as, 'An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae; a Disease Discovered in some of the Western Counties of England, Particularly Gloucestershire, and Known by the Name of The Cow Pox', printed in 1798.

Still his critics were numerous and vociferous, particularly members of the Clergy, who felt it was unethical to introduce an animal's disease into a human. Jenner was the source of many jokes and cartoons which showed people he had inoculated as running around with cows heads.

Medicine man
Jenner believed the vaccine should be available for all and did not patent it, meaning he made no money from it. Doctors however, could still charge patients for the inoculation.
Medicine, as a profession became more respected and more prevalent in society in the following 100 years, doctors became celebrities and the 7th International Medical Conference, held in 1881, gave medical practitioners a certain prestige. This was all to late for Jenner, who died in his home village in 1832, eight years before his vaccine became the government prescribed standard for the prevention of smallpox.


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