Necessity is the mother of invention! ... See MoreSee Less
The Faculty of Pharmacy of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences is organizing the International Conference: Pharmacy Science and Practice.
The conference is dedicated to the Pharmacist’s Role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference will be held online on the 22nd of October.
We invite you to join the section on the history of pharmacy.
Link to join the session.
The meeting will start at 11:40 a.m. (9:40 a.m. Western European Time zone). ... See MoreSee Less
Early Modern Medical Imagination Series 4:
"La Vaccine en Voyage" ('The Vaccine on the Move'), 1799
Coloured etching by Anonymous, dated 1799, Object no: print01120, Harvey Cushing and John Hay Whitney Medical Library, Yale University.
Smallpox is the scourge of the 18th century. It killed proportionally twice as many people as the plague did in the 17th century. But it struck people differently. While the plague terrorised people with its massive attacks, smallpox was much more diffuse; it was even described as 'universal'. Surveys and reports emphasise that people are resigned to having to pay their tribute to 'smallpox', because it is a disease to which they have become accustomed, familiar, and which does not provoke the shock of a new or massive pandemic.
So when the vaccine, often called the "new inoculation", was proposed by the English physician Edward Jenner at the very end of the 18th century - he published "An Inquiry Into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ" in 1798 - there was less overt resistance from the most fragile populations struggling against poverty than a lack of willingness to be vaccinated. Despite this, progress in the fight against smallpox was meteoric.
It is in this very precise context that the engraving "La Vaccine en voyage" is set to make fun of the vaccine craze. Indeed, vaccinators travelled the countryside, and if for its detractors it was a fashion, for its supporters it was a real mission, to which they devoted themselves body and soul. The lancet used to collect and introduce the 'vaccine fluid' became the symbol of their cause. While smallpox caused about eighty thousand deaths per year in France before 1800, by 1805-1806 the number had dropped to about ten thousand. This engraving is therefore exactly contemporary with this change.
The image is clearly satirical, in that the anonymous author refers to it as a 'caprice'. In front of an audience dressed in the fashion of the time, but somewhat dazed, two health officers loudly proclaim that they are going to vaccinate everyone, a direct but burlesque reference to the quasi-missionary impulse that seized vaccinators at the very beginning of the 19th century. They travel through the countryside of a mainly rural country to introduce the fluid vaccine from arm to arm, whose "success is exaggerated".
But the harlequin at the back of the carriage sets the tone of the image: those vaccinated will be transformed into turkeys, which he holds up with one hand, echoing the two proclamations 'we will vaccinate' ("nous dindonnons") and, even more explicitly, 'everyone will be vaccinated, that is to say, fouled' ("chacun sera vacciné c’est-à-dire dindonné"). The play on words puts the laughter on his side, because "dindonner" means to deceive, to fool. The language still remembers this with the expression "to be the turkey of the farce".
Some have suggested that the cow at the back of the carriage refer to Edward Jenner and his discovery of the prophylactic virtues of cowpox from Gloucester cows, which enabled the English doctor to propose, along with vaccinia, a revolutionary weapon against smallpox.
For its detractors, vaccinia was the latest fashionable deception, and its supporters were charlatans who promised to rejuvenate and beautify the vaccinated.
(Information extracted partly from Pierre-Yves BEAUREPAIRE, « La vaccine en voyage », Histoire par l'image [en ligne], consulté le 20 octobre 2021. URL : histoire-image.org/fr/etudes/vaccine-voyage) ... See MoreSee Less