Vaccination history pre-dating Edward Jenner

This injection of pus from cowpox vesicles into individuals as a form of preventative medication against smallpox has been credited as the first type of vaccination from this procedure and from the Latin, vaccinia = cow, we derive the term vaccination.

The orthodox interpretation of medical history puts Jenner at the forefront of vaccine research, however a closer look at the historical evidence reveals otherwise; the practice of inoculating, by using the extract of a disease product to try and stimulate immunity in another patient was well known in Jenner’s day.

Jenner would have used various forms of inoculation in his own practise, in fact the specific cowpox version credited to Jenner was in fact used by Benjamin Jesty (1737-1816), of Yetminster in Dorset, and he was reputed to have performed successful cow-pox vaccination in 1774, thus preceding Jenner by more than twenty years.

The extent of the use of inoculations prior to Edward Jenner (1796) can be illustrated by looking at the “Lecture Memoranda,”XVII International Congress of Medicine, London, 1913, which states:

“The practice of inoculation for the prevention of disease is one of considerable antiquity. The period of its discovery can only be conjectured…”

Dhanwantari, the Vedic Father of Medicine, and the earliest known Hindu physician, who lived about 1,500 B.C., is supposed to have been the first to practice inoculation for smallpox. It is even stated that the ancient Hindus employed a vaccine, which they prepared by the transmission of the smallpox virus through a cow.”

History of Inoculation and Vaccination, pp. 6, 13

Dr. Clements in his pamphlet, “A Superstitious Custom” traces the inoculation practices through the various modern countries previous to Jenner’s day (1796):

  • Denmark in 1673 and later in 1778;
  • Wales in 1722;
  • France in 1712, and prohibited in 1763;
  • Ireland in 1723;
  • Germany in 1724;
  • Italy in 1754 and 142 years later in 1896

Carlo Ruta, Professor of Materia Medica at the University of Perugia, Italy, protested against the deadly custom in these scathing words:

Vaccination is a monstrosity, a misbegotten offspring of error and ignorance; and, being such, it should have no place in either hygiene or medicine…. Believe not in vaccination, it is a world-wide delusion, an unscientific practice, a fatal superstition with consequences measured today by tears and sorrow without end.

In Ancient Greece and Rome, the MIGHTY NATIONS OF MIGHTY MEN, there was no inoculation — no vaccination — and no smallpox.” These nations have been known down through history as being famous for their general habits of health, cleanliness and stability as well as their vigour and strength. Among the Greeks and Romans smallpox was unknown until it was carried there by the inoculators from other countries.