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Vial of DPT Vaccine, Lyons, France, 1994

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This glass vial contains 5ml of the DPT vaccine – the equivalent of ten doses. The vaccine was injected into a human patient to gain immunity against the potentially fatal diseases Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (Whooping Cough). It was administered as part of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Extended Programme on Immunisation (EPI). Diphtheria is now rare in the UK. This is because of vaccination programmes which began in 1940, when the death rate from diphtheria was high. Diphtheria is still a common disease in parts of the world. The vaccine was manufactured by Pasteur Merieux, in France. The EPI targeted six main childhood diseases and immunisation in the developing world was seen a particularly referenced. This is important because vaccine-preventable diseases disproportionately affect the poorest section of the developing world. This form of DTP vaccine caused controversy in the 1990s as it resulted in adverse reactions in a small proportion of children. These safety concerns led to the combined vaccination being withdrawn in 1997, to be replaced with DTaP, a modified version of the vaccine.

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    Glossary: vaccination

    The introduction of vaccine into the body for the purpose of inducing immunity. Coined originally to apply to the injection of smallpox vaccine, the term has come to mean any immunising procedure in which vaccine is injected.

    Glossary: tetanus

    An acute infectious disease, affecting the nervous system. Infection generally occurs through contamination of a wound. Symptoms include a locked jaw, arching of the back or neck and the inability to urinate.

    Glossary: whooping cough

    An acute highly infectious disease, primarily affecting infants. Whooping cough gets its name from the severe hacking cough followed by intake of breath that sounds like a ‘whoop’. A highly effective vaccine was introduced in the 1940s.

    Glossary: vaccine

    A substance given to humans or animals to improve immunity from disease. A vaccine can sometimes contain a small amount of bacteria that is designed to stimulate the body's reaction to that particular disease. The first vaccine was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner to prevent smallpox.

    Glossary: diphtheria

    An acute highly contagious infection, generally affecting the throat but occasionally other mucous membranes and the skin. Diphtheria has been largely eradicated due to world-wide vaccination efforts.

    Glossary: phial

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