Istanbul Gelisim University Faculty of Health Sciences: Faculty Bulletin (Volume: 1, Issue: 8 August 2021)
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CONVERSATION ON VACCINE AND VACCINATION WITH PROF. DR. RIFAT MUTUŞ, DEAN OF FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the wife of Edward Wortley Montagu, who was the British Ambassador in Istanbul in 1717-1718, mentioned very important information in her letters not only about her travels in Turkey but also about the social, cultural life and health system in Istanbul. Lady Montagu had suffered smallpox in Istanbul. She stated that the smallpox vaccine, which is not yet available in England, is widely used in Istanbul and that her two children were vaccinated in Istanbul. In the letter she wrote to her country, Montagu reported, in surprise and happiness, that "something called a vaccine" (variation method) was being made against smallpox in Istanbul: "Here, they are preventing smallpox, a very common and cruel disease in our country, with a vaccine they discovered. The best time for vaccination is the end of the hot weather, the beginning of autumn. After opening the vein to be opened with a large needle, they put the smallpox vaccine filled in the walnut shell, as much as the tip of the needle. Then they tie the wound and stick a walnut shell on it. No pain is felt during this entire operation. They do the same with four or five other veins. Closed parts of the body are selected for the vaccine. Vaccinated children are kept for up to eight days. They lie in bed for two or three days. Twenty or thirty pimples appear on their faces. But within eight days, they appear as if they have not been infected at all. The poison of smallpox is expelled from the opened wounds, and the spread of the disease to other parties is prevented." At the end of her letter, Lady Mary Montagu explained the reason why this method would be learned in England as follows: “Because I love my country so much, I wanted the vaccine to be introduced there too.” 150-200 years later, French microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur administered the rabies vaccine he developed to 9-year-old Joseph Meister, who was bitten by a dog on July 6, 1885, saving the lives of the child and later many others. During the period of his ministry until 1937, Dr Refik Saydam, who became the Minister of Health in Turkey after the proclamation of the Republic, enacted the Public Health Law No. 1593 (1930) and pioneered the establishment of the Refik Saydam Hygiene Institute on May 27, 1928. In 1947, a Biological Control Laboratory was established under the Refik Saydam Hygiene Center Presidency and a vaccination station was put into service. As it can be understood from these few examples, humanity has been dealing with infectious diseases for a long time, and with sterilization, destroying microbes and finding vaccines, very important advances have been made in medicine.
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