(April 29, 2012) The concept of vaccinating to immunize began in 1796, when British apothecary (pharmacist) Edward Jenner inserted cowpox pus under the skin of an eight year old boy. Jenner based his experiment on an unsubstantiated rumor that anyone who had experienced cowpox would be immune to smallpox.
Over the next couple of years, Jenner vaccinated others with cowpox to immunize them against smallpox. Without any actual proof of efficacy and safety, Jenner impressed King George III enough with a bogus immunization guarantee that he was awarded the equivalent of today's $500,000.
Thus, Jenner was the first medical professional to administer diseased matter as medication to a healthy person and receive a substantial financial award. He was also the first to constantly denounce vaccination detractors successfully. He was protecting both his ego and large public purse.
Many health professionals throughout the 19th Century knew that there had been several cases of smallpox among those with cowpox histories.