• By Deb Balzer

History of infectious disease outbreaks and vaccines timeline

February 3, 2022

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a digital historical timeline of infectious disease outbreaks and vaccines. The timeline spans the development of a smallpox vaccine in 1796 to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit the History of Infectious Disease Outbreaks and Vaccines Timeline to learn about the history of major disease outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics, as well as how vaccines and research affected many infectious diseases. 

"The field of infectious diseases is rich in history, and its impact on the world has been immeasurable, especially in regards to antibiotics and vaccines," says Dr. Daniel DeSimone, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist. "Often, the best crystal ball to predict the future is learning from the past. This allows for better understanding of what worked and what didn't, and leverage that understanding toward advancing the science."

The timeline features:

  • Major diseases outbreaks and vaccines, such as smallpox, mumps, measles and COVID-19. 
  • The importance of and impact of vaccines. 
  • A brief history of major vaccine requirements in the U.S. 
  • Historical facts about other major disease outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics that show similarities with the more recent COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

Learn more about tracking COVID-19 and COVID-19 trends.

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