Online exhibition: a history of vaccination

Explore the history of vaccination through our fascinating online exhibition highlighting key moments in its history.

Vaccination: a history of saving lives


Our online exhibition shows objects from key moments in the history of vaccination.


Ranging from the initial vaccine discovery to the impact on public health and disease prevention, it also charts the history of misinformation around vaccines.


You'll also see the Red Cross's life-saving work in supporting mass vaccination campaigns during outbreaks, from smallpox to COVID-19, in the UK and around the world.


View our online exhibition

Success over the years

Since the 18th-century, vaccination has been a vital tool in the fight against infectious diseases.

Despite a long history of opposition, mass immunisation programmes have helped eradicate diseases such as smallpox.

They have also reduced transmission of many more including polio, measles and tetanus. 

This video shows a mass vaccination programme in Glasgow during a smallpox outbreak in 1950, when British Red Cross volunteers supported NHS staff.

Thank you and credits 

Exhibition curator - Mehzebin Adam.

Thanks to Stephen Noble for film and photo research.

Images of objects on this page © Wellcome Collection/ Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.