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Ivory and box wood vaccinator, Europe, 1701-1800

The history of smallpox vaccination does not necessarily start with Edward Jenner’s (1749-1823) introduction of a cowpox vaccine in 1798. A procedure known as ‘variolation’ was devised in China about a thousand years ago and then spread westwards to Turkey and a number of other Islamic countries. In variolation, material from smallpox pustules was given to an uninfected person by blowing dried sma…