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Vaccination set, London, England, 1925-1928

Inside the cardboard is a small thin glass tube containing a single vaccine for smallpox. Made from calf lymph by the Jenner Institute for Calf Lymph Ltd, the vaccine has been sealed in glycerine so it can be easily transported over long distances. Calves were injected with smallpox and lymph material from the pus caused by the disease was used as a vaccine. From 1898, it was illegal to use human lymph as it spread other diseases. Vaccination against smallpox did not give life-long immunity and needed to be repeated. The kit contains nickel-plated instruments by Down Bros Ltd, surgical instrument maker. Nickel-plated instruments can be easily sterilised without damaging the underlying metal.

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Glossary: vaccination set

No description.

Glossary: vaccination

The introduction of vaccine into the body for the purpose of inducing immunity. Coined originally to apply to the injection of smallpox vaccine, the term has come to mean any immunising procedure in which vaccine is injected.

Glossary: smallpox

Smallpox is an infectious virus unique to humans. It results in a characteristic skin rash and fluid-filled blisters. After successful vaccination campaigns throughout the 1800s and 1900s, the World Health Organisation certified the eradication of smallpox in 1979. Smallpox is the only human infectious disease to have been completely wiped out.

Glossary: vaccine

A substance given to humans or animals to improve immunity from disease. A vaccine can sometimes contain a small amount of bacteria that is designed to stimulate the body's reaction to that particular disease. The first vaccine was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner to prevent smallpox.