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Within the first quarter of 2016, we witnessed the rise of the Zika virus that is common among babies and pregnant women. It is caused by Aedes mosquitoes and has similar symptoms to dengue and yellow fever. So far, there is no vaccine available to treat or combat the Zika virus.

This situation has prompted some people to ask: what if vaccines are unreliable and have little benefit to humankind?

The history of vaccines can be said to begin in the 10th century when China started the practice of vaccination for smallpox (an infectious disease that infects people by attacking their skin cells and causes the skin to have severe rashes.) This practice continued to spread widely across the continents in the early 1720s before it came to the knowledge of doctors in Britain.

The revolution of vaccines may have begun in the 1760s when a scientist named Edward Jenner succeeded in making a vaccine that was safe for children and adults who contracted smallpox and cowpox. In the 1800s, a microbiologist named Louis Pasteur developed a vaccine for cholera. Since then, the public have been more aware of vaccines and its benefits in treating or curing diseases. Vaccines were later produced for different diseases such as measles, rubella and polio in the beginning of the 20th century.

The majority of the people across the globe have benefited greatly with the recommended practice of vaccination. According to a scientific study, vaccines have helped to prevent roughly more than 2.5 million deaths every year. Vaccines also helped build ‘herd immunity’; where one unvaccinated person will probably not get sick because other people are vaccinated and no one has the disease to spread to them.

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