TAMPA, Fla. - You can trace the roots of inoculations all the way back to ancient China. However, it wasn’t until 1796 when we saw the first real vaccine breakthrough. That was when Edward Jenner used cowpox to combat the deadly disease known as smallpox.
“He discovered this and was like, ‘Well, maybe we'll give people cowpox and they'll become protected.’ And they were,” said USF’s Dr. Thomas Unnasch, an infectious disease expert.
And that really helped get the vaccine ball rolling. In 1885, the first rabies vaccine was discovered. By the early to mid-1900s, new breakthroughs were being made to fight the ailments of the time, including tetanus and diphtheria. The first flu vaccine was used in 1945. Ten years later, there was another milestone when the polio vaccine was approved.
“When the vaccine came in, it was a godsend. Now, with a few pockets around the world, it’s on the verge of eradication,” Dr. Unnasch said.
There have been numerous other inoculations that have saved countless lives. Now in 2020, we sit on the verge of at least two coronavirus vaccines that have the potential of helping to return life back to normal: Pfizer and Moderna.
“Hallelujah! Thank the Lord,” Dr. Unnasch said. “What it says is that the cavalry is coming but we got to hold out until the cavalry gets here.”
That’s because the vaccines may not be widely available until around April, 136 days away. The coronavirus has killed 246,000 Americans, 17,000 in Florida.
“We have to knuckle down as a community and continue to do the right thing – social distance, masks – and take care of ourselves for next four months and then it’s going to be over,” Unnasch added.