Vaccination kit, England, 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Edward Jenner (1749-1823), a country doctor, was the first to inoculate people against the killer disease smallpox. His experiments involved introducing fluid from a cowpox sore through a person's skin into the tisue, using a lancet. He named his technique 'vaccination' ('vacca' is from the Latin word for cow), and it was so succesful that by 1840 the British government had banned all alternative preventive treatments. The 1853 Vaccination Act heralded an era of compulsory vaccination against smallpox. This kit contains small sharp blades which were used to pierce the patient's skin so that the smallpox vaccine could be applied.