His name was James Phipps, and in 1796, when he was just 8 years old, Edward Jenner gave him the first modern vaccine.
This vaccine defended him against smallpox. It was inspired by centuries of innovation by physicians in North Africa, grandmothers in Constantinople, and Ming Dynasty physicians in China, all seeking ways to protect the next generation from disease and death. dead.
It’s a quest I know well. I work at UNICEF, and for 75 years we have been the largest vaccine supplier in the world, responsible for vaccinating 45% of children on Earth. But once upon a time, I was a kid too, and chances are I’m very fond of the kids we work with who wouldn’t be here without vaccines. So, this is a love letter from me, and from all of us here at UNICEF, on behalf of every child who is alive today because of vaccines.
Because we want to say thank you.
Thanks to virologist Jonas Salk for the polio vaccine. Thank you, Kati Karikó whose lifelong work on mRNA has helped us fight COVID-19. And thanks to Nobel laureate Max Theiler whose team fed mosquitoes their own blood to create the yellow fever vaccine.
Thanks to the workers who fill the bottles in the factories. Thanks to the designers who make the solar fridges to keep them cool. Thank you to the boat crews, pilots and drivers who brave flooded rivers during the monsoon season, or travel miles through the snow, to bring babies their very first dose.