Where modern vaccination began : It has been called the birthplace of modern vaccination. And this is how its history begins and plays out :

More than 220 years ago, the residents of an English village lined up outside a small wooden hut to have their arms scratched with a lancet as they were given the first vaccine for small pox.

The pioneering local doctor administering the vaccine, Edward Jenner, called the modest building in his garden the ''Temple of Vaccinia,'' and from this place grew a public health movement that would see smallpox declared eradicated globally in 1980.

But a new scourge has left this place - where the gnarled wooden walls of Dr. Jenner's hut still stand at a museum at the and garden dedicated to his legacy - closed to the public, its future on shaky ground.

Even as Dr. Jenner's work was cited time and again as the world raced toward a coronavirus vaccine, the museum at his former home struggled to survive.

''I think the issue has been an underfunding of Museums for many, many years in this country,'' said Owen Gower, the manager of Dr. Jenner's House, Museum and Garden.

''Covid has really shone a light on these problems, as it has with so many different issues.''

The museum is among scores of independent cultural heritage sites across Britain that have teetered on this brink since last year, as one of their main sources of income - visitors - was cut off when pandemic restrictions shut their doors.

''It's going to be a lot of work to get reopening again. When the Jenner museum reopens, Mr. Gower hopes to update the exhibits to incorporate newly relevant themes emerging in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Telling the broader story of vaccination globally, highlighting the many contributors to the lifesaving developments, is something Mr. Gower believes the museum namesake would have endorsed.

''We're very keen to move away from this idea of there being one hero in the story of vaccination,'' Mr. Gower said, noting that Dr. Jenner's breakthrough ''was on the back of other people's work.''

Mr. Gower believes that Dr. Jenner's focus on collaborative work - he never patented his vaccine, offered it for free and taught other doctors how to do the procedure - also offers lessons of the current age.

And as nations scramble for limited vaccine supplies and anti-vaccine campaigns take root, the story behind how we got here is more important than ever.

''He did remarkable things - and the number of lives saved and changed as a result of vaccination - it all started here,'' Mr. Gower said. ''But I think it's also the idea that it's not just something of the past, it's something that's ongoing.''

The World Students Society thanks author Megan Specia.


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