The women who made modern vaccines work

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Have you heard of Edward Jenner, the inventor of the modern vaccine? Or Jonas Salk, whose polio vaccine was a turning point in the fight against this debilitating disease? If you know something about global health, you’ve probably heard of these vaccine pioneers. But what about the women who also helped lay the foundations for modern immunisation? Meet five remarkable women who pushed forward the frontiers of science.  

08 March 2017

Lady Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu - Introduced smallpox inoculation
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu defied convention by introducing smallpox inoculation into Western medicine. While visiting the Ottoman Empire, she learnt about Turkish customs and witnessed the practice of inoculation against smallpox. Lady Mary was eager to spare her children the suffering of smallpox, so in 1718 she had her nearly five-year-old son, Edward, inoculated. On her return to London, she promoted the procedure, despite resistance from the medical establishment.

kendrick eldering

Drs Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering - Worked together to develop a vaccine against whooping cough

Working with a limited budget, Eldering and Kendrick researched pertussis (whooping cough) and ran a successful clinical trial, resulting in the first vaccine against the disease being introduced in America in the 1940s. Following the development of the pertussis vaccine, they combined it with two other vaccines (diphtheria and tetanus) into a single vaccine, now universally referred to as “DTP”.

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