On my trip home from getting a COVID-19 vaccination at Cottage Hospital in Goleta, I started wondering how the idea of vaccination to prevent disease came about? Who came up with the concept that introducing a person to a disease could prevent them from getting the actual disease? I decided to research and found all sorts of interesting facts about viruses, bacteria, historical pandemics and where we stand today.

Viruses have been killing people for thousands of years. Smallpox is believed to be the oldest virus to infect humans, starting around 10,000 B.C., when the first agricultural settlements established in northeastern Africa. This was no coincidence when widespread disease started because before agricultural civilizations, people lived in small, isolated family groups and did not domesticate animals. But once they lived in large groups with domesticated animals, widespread disease began.

It has since been learned that viruses jump from animals to humans, which can be devastating for humans. It is thought that the smallpox virus came from cows and killed millions of people before the concept of inoculation came about. (Note: The word inoculation comes from the Latin word inoculare, meaning “to graft.”)

030421 Vaccination and Disease 2

Dr. Jenner performing his first vaccination on James Phipps, 8, on May 14, 1796.

Former mayor of Buellton, Judith Dale built her career in education and continues to serve the local community as Santa Barbara County 3rd District representative to the Library Advisory Board and board member of the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation. She can be reached at judith@hwy246.net

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