Developing the First Vaccine

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Developing the First Vaccine

Developing the First Vaccine - critical analysis
At a time when people were dying by the hundreds from the small pox virus, Edward Jenner developed the concept of vaccination by injecting a young boy with cow pox. The cow pox virus is very similar to the small pox virus.
Dr. Jenner had noticed that milk maids who had been exposed to cow pox (a virus which does not make them sick), rarely contract small pox, which is deadly for humans.
Edward Jenner injected a boy with liquid containing active cow pox. After a specific period of time Dr. Jenner exposed the young boy to the small pox virus.
The boy did not get the deadly disease.
The official name for the cow pox virus is Vaccinia. The technique of exposing people to safer versions of a bacteria, virus or toxin, so they will be protect from contact with a more virulent strain is now known as Vaccination.

  • Would Dr. Jenner be allowed to conduct such an experiment now in the United States?
  • What would be the reaction if Dr. Jenner did this experiment today?
  • How would you feel about your parent(s) having you be the test subject in this experiment?
  • Would you allow your child (assume you have a child) to be the test subject in this experiment? Why do you say that?
  • What are the pro’s and con’s of medical research?
  • Under what conditions might such experimentation be done?
  • Research has been done to develop a DNA vaccine against the deadly SARS virus. Refer to pages 188 & 189 in your text for more details. Clinical trials are needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of such a vaccine. Would you want members of your family or yourself to be injected with the new DNA vaccine? Explain.