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Vaccination: finding the 'perfect disease'

Home > Exhibitions > Vaccination: finding the 'perfect disease'

This exhibition uncovers the story of the College’s role in vaccination since its discovery in 1796. When Edward Jenner discovered the world’s first vaccine, for smallpox in 1796, he referred to it as the ‘perfect disease’. The College’s role in the story begins soon after. In 1799, the first successful vaccination in Scotland was performed by a member of the College, William Nimmo, here in the city of Glasgow. In 1801 the College opened one of the first vaccine centres in the UK, vaccinating many thousands of local people throughout the 19th century. The College was the only professional medical body to deliver a public vaccination programme.

The exhibition uses the College’s collections to tell this story. Our collections also connect it to other more recent vaccination programmes, for example malaria, tuberculosis and Covid-19.