GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — National Vaccination Day is observed every year on March 16th, to convey the importance of vaccinations and their role in public health.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “immunization is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases.”

Vaccination practices can be traced back hundreds of years. Evidence even points to the Chinese administered immunizations of smallpox as far back as 1000 A.D. Evidence also shows Turkish and African communities practicing immunization before the practice spread to Europe and the Americas.

Edward Jenner is considered the father of vaccinology after he inoculated a young boy with vaccinia virus (cowpox) in 1796 and it showed immunity to smallpox. By 1980 the World Health Assembly declared the disease eradicated following mass immunization efforts, they discontinued the vaccine. Cholera and inactivated anthrax vaccines and the plague vaccine were all invented in the late 19th century.

Bacterial vaccine development increased between 1890 and 1950, including the BCG vaccine that is still used today. In 1923 Alexander Glenny found the right method to inactivate tetanus toxin with formaldehyde, the same method later used to develop the diphtheria vaccine in 1926. In the 60s, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines were combined to form the M.M.R. vaccine.

The Salk and Sabin polio vaccines were developed from 1950 to 1985 using viral tissue culture methods. Due to mass immunizations, polio is nearly eradicated in many countries across the globe. Within the last two decades, we’ve seen successful developments of recombinant hepatitis B and seasonal influenza vaccines.

World Immunization Week is observed by the WHO during the last week of April every year.

Timeline of Vaccine History 

  • Facts about vaccines:
  • Vaccines can be given as shots, while others are given orally.
  • No cases of smallpox have been recorded since 1997.
  • Vaccines don’t have the active virus in them, they merely mimic the virus.
  • Infants receive their first vaccination at 8 weeks, then at 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and so on.