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Edward Jenner's ivory vaccination points, England, 1821

Ivory points were used to give smallpox vaccinations. These ivory points were used and prepared by the pioneer of smallpox vaccination himself, Edward Jenner (1749-1823). They measure 25 mm in length. Jenner successfully tested the idea that an attack of cowpox, a milder form of smallpox, gave immunity to smallpox. The vaccine was the lymph material from a pustule of a person already vaccinated with cowpox. Pustules are skin blisters filled with pus that appear approximately five to eight days after vaccination. This is known as arm-to-arm vaccination. The points were rubbed, scratched on, or inserted into a cut in the skin.

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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: cowpox

Viral infection of cows' udders, transmitted to humans by direct contact, causing very mild symptoms similar to smallpox.

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: vaccination point

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.

Glossary: pustule

A small inflammation of the skin, containing pus.