Friday 16th of April 2021

the anti-vaxxers of yesteryears...


The Cow-Pock—or—the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!—vide. the Publications of ye Anti-Vaccine Society

Print (color engraving) published June 12, 1802 by H. Humphrey, St. James's Street.

In this cartoon, the British satirist James Gillray caricatured a scene at the Smallpox and Inoculation Hospital at St. Pancras, showing cowpox vaccine being administered to frightened young women, and cows emerging from different parts of people's bodies. The cartoon was inspired by the controversy over inoculating against the dreaded disease, smallpox. Opponents of vaccination had depicted cases of vaccinees developing bovine features and this is picked up and exaggerated by Gillray. Although the central figure is often assumed to be Edward Jenner circumstantial evidence suggests this may not be so. Although the director of the Smallpox Hospital William Woodville had originally supported Jenner, he and his colleague George Pearson, were in dispute with Jenner by the time the caricature was published. It is unlikely they would have met Jenner and it has been suggested that the central figure represents Pearson. Gillray often included clues to identify individuals who were not easily recognizable, but the only clue here is the badge on the arm of the boy which identifies his connection with Woodville's hospital. The boy holds a container labeled "VACCINE POCK hot from ye COW" and papers in the boy's pocket are labeled "Benefits of the Vaccine". The tub on the desk is labeled "OPENING MIXTURE". A bottle next to the tub is labeled "VOMIT". The painting on the wall depicts worshippers of the Golden Calf.

Date: 1802

Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division...

Author: James Gillray

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Edward Jenner...

For many centuries, smallpox devastated mankind. In modern times we do not have to worry about it thanks to the remarkable work of Edward Jenner and later developments from his endeavors. With the rapid pace of vaccine development in recent decades, the historic origins of immunization are often forgotten. Unfortunately, since the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the threat of biological warfare and bioterrorism has reemerged. Smallpox has been identified as a possible agent of bioterrorism (1). It seems prudent to review the history of a disease known to few people in the 21st century.

Edward Jenner (Figure ​(Figure11) is well known around the world for his innovative contribution to immunization and the ultimate eradication of smallpox (2). Jenner's work is widely regarded as the foundation of immunology—despite the fact that he was neither the first to suggest that infection with cowpox conferred specific immunity to smallpox nor the first to attempt cowpox inoculation for this purpose.



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