The topic of immunisation is an interesting topic to consider with pupils. This topic can cover change and development over several thousand years and include discussions on topics such as epidemiology, politics, progression of science and medicine, morality, agency, protest and resistance, modern context and sanitation / disease.
Between scarification, insufflation, variolation, vaccination and experimentation there is scope for extensive discussions on treatment practice. Also examinations of symptoms for diseases such as smallpox can be interesting and engaging for both presentations, question and answer sessions as well as group discussion work.
Within the introductory lesson of the school engagement project as part of the Curriculum for Excellence Resource - History & Healthcare, smallpox is discussed as part of a larger discussion on disease and epidemiology. The diagnosis of smallpox symptoms on a worksheet is a key part of the group activity. (See the resource section for more examples of this lesson.)
This section of the lesson has always been well received with pupils who tend to grin and groan over, but also retain information regarding, the descriptions of bursting pustules and explanations of arm to arm violation.
As a snapshot, the history of vaccination has constantly been a fun and educational component of the programme. Please find below a series of links and resources that were helpful in incorporating immunisation into the lesson.
GCSE Bitesize - Medieval and Renaissance medicine: Renaissance methods of diagnosis and treatment.
History of Vaccines – Section for Education and Resources
Vaccination Timeline – Public Health England –
Immunisation Scotland – Website focused to Vaccination Education in Scotland
Smallpox and the development of vaccination, (Digitised) Collection for Medical History of British India, National Library of Scotland
Vaccines and Immunisation: Epidemics, Prevention and Canadian Innovation. Museum of Health Care at Kingston -
Image Credit -Wellcome Library London L0015950 - Edward Jenner, vaccinating his young child, held by Mrs Jenner; a maid rolls up her sleeve, a man stands outside holding a cow. Coloured engraving by C. Manigaud after E Hamman.