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How do vaccines work? - Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut


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The first ever vaccine was created when Edward Jenner, an English physician and scientist, successfully injected small amounts of a cowpox virus into a young boy to protect him from the related (and deadly) smallpox virus. But how does this seemingly counterintuitive process work? Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut details the science behind vaccines.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

How far we have come with developing vaccines? Have a look at this timeline. Click on the activities tab and follow the scientific method of vaccine development. Learn what an epidemiologist does. Have some misconceptions about vaccines? Visit this page and get the correct answers to your questions!

Interested in the great smallpox epidemic? For a complete timeline read this World Health Organization publication, The History of Smallpox and Its Spread Around the World. Finally, learn about how we conquered the deadly smallpox virus in this TED-Ed video! How did the world become smallpox free?

Want more facts on vaccines? Visit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. What are some benefits of vaccines? What will the future of vaccines look like?

Interested in learning more about Jenner’s experiment with cowpox? Visit PBS and find out the details! Check out the complete site Rx For Survival and learn about the campaign to get rid of polio, the work that is being done to develop an AIDS vaccine, and more about the final end of smallpox. What would you ask a vaccine expert? Visit Ask the Expert page and see the answers to questions you might have too!

Many people have a fear of vaccinations. Why? Read the New York Times article, Fear of Vaccines Goes Viral and find out. Then listen to NPR’s story, Vaccine Controversies Are As Social As They Are Medical. What happens when, due to fear, children are not vaccinated? Read about the resurgence of preventable diseases that has resulted from this trend. Then, get information by viewing NOVA: Vaccines—Calling the Shots. Based on what you have learned, what is your opinion of vaccines? What happens when too many people opt out of getting vaccinations for themselves or their children?

Is it possible for art to encourage vaccinations? The Gates Foundation think so.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut
  • Director Veronica Wallenberg
  • Animator Johan Sonestedt, Joakim Jonsson
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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