The miraculous garden shed saving lives in Britain
Jenner was inspired by the milkmaid’s comments to design a much better solution: a harmless but effective injection to confer immunity. He speculated that if he gave people mild smallpox, it would stimulate some sort of internal security system to protect people from smallpox. In an age of bloody leeches and mercury purgatives, this was a revolutionary concept. No one knew about the immune system then. In many ways, Jenner was centuries ahead of her time.
It’s unclear if his first subject, James Phipps – the gardener’s eight-year-old son – volunteered or even knew what he was doing, but Jenner didn’t take his contribution lightly.
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The boy survived the process, was later immunized against the deadly disease circulating in the area, and proved a theory that saved millions. Jenner showed the world’s gratitude to James by giving him a home. Visitors can take a leafy path from Jenner’s house to see Phipps Cottage, now a plaque-marked private home in Church Lane.
In the corner of his own backyard, Jenner playfully named the shed where he injected James “The Vaccine Temple” and called himself a “faithful vaccine priest.” Surprisingly enough, this original structure of stone, bark and thatch survives. Perhaps it should become a sanctuary for the millions that vaccination has since saved from many diseases, including smallpox (now completely eradicated thanks to vaccines), HIV and, of course, Covid.