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Mallam-type vaccinator, London, England, 1874-1900

A number of different devices were invented to give smallpox vaccinations. Invented by Mallam in 1874, this device is curved to fit a child’s arm. Four double blades are triggered using the lever on top. All of the blades would have been prepared by being dipped in lymph material from the pustule of a person who had already been vaccinated. Pustules are skin blisters filled with pus that appear approximately five to eight days after vaccination. Vaccination did not give life-long immunity. Using human lymph became illegal in Britain in 1898 as it was found to spread other diseases, such as syphilis. Instead, specially prepared animal lymph was used.

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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: immunity

The condition of being immune, the protection against infectious disease conferred either by the immune response generated by immunisation or previous infection or by other nonimmunologic factors.

Glossary: vaccinator

No description.

Glossary: lymph

Clear, slightly yellowish fluid derived from the blood and similar in composition to plasma. Lymph conveys white blood cells and some nutrients to the tissues.

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.