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Diploma awarding honorary membership of the London Vaccine Institution, London, England, 1826

Founded in 1806 by John Walker (1759-1830), the London Vaccine Institution was one of several institutes to vaccinate the general public against smallpox. Walker qualified as a physician but spent his career working in the new field of smallpox vaccination. From 1802 until 1806, Walker was a vaccinator at the Royal Jennerian Society, set up by Edward Jenner (1749-1823), the pioneer of smallpox vaccination. After a dispute, Walker left to set up his own institution. He eventually returned and took over the Jennerian Society, which had closed in 1809. The certificate was designed by James George Oben (1760-1819) and engraved by J Dudley.

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Glossary: certificate

Documents giving authoritative recognition of a fact, qualification, or promise

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.