SMART TASK: Why was there so much opposition to Jenner’s ideas on vaccination in the 19th century?

This is a short, fun SMART task.  All the instructions are on the PowerPoint presentation.  Start with slide 2 which sets the puzzle, a paradox.  If Jenner was so highly regarded and his ideas paved the way for the eventual eradication of smallpox, why then was there so much opposition to him and his ideas.

To make this fun, place the students into 7 groups. Give each a role card (slides 4,5,6,7,8,9,10). Each card represents a different reason for opposition; some are easier than others so you can differentiate who you give which card to. Each reason is built around a person given a silly name to set the tone. e.g.

  • Inoculators feared for their jobs (Dr Jealous-Rival)
  • People didn’t like idea of giving humans disease from animals and smallpox was seen as punishment from God (Mr and Mrs Godly)
  • Jenner couldn’t explain how it worked (Dr Sceptical)
  • Vaccination was opposed when made compulsory. People resented government interference.( Mr and Mrs Freedom)

Give groups 5 minutes each to prepare to give a memorable presentation which should last just one minute.  When all are complete, quickly summarise and then ask every student to write down all the 7 reasons.

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