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The illness "variola" (small pocks) also known as "Blattern" could have terrible effects on people throughout the centuries. This illness was able to disfigure or blind people. All levels of society were affected. There was no cure so that the illness appeared every four to seven years. Children especially were targeted by the epidemic and Blattern could be one of the top causes for children's deaths. Naturally, parents and scientists were eager to find a cure.
It is well known that the British doctor Jenner started vaccinating children with cow pox to achieve immunity, however, long before 1796 sporadic tests were made to immunize people. However, these experiments did not prove to be 100% successful and were known to have caused more harm in some instances than the Blattern themselves. The birthdate for vaccination against small pocks was the 14th May 1796. Jenner's "experiment" with cow pocks proved to be so successful that his methods quickly spread to the continent and was improved upon in the next decade. What pastors and doctors started, was picked up by the state and thus vaccination books sprang up everywhere. The entire population was listed, and carefully kept tabulations established of children who were not yet vaccinated and which were. There are remarks in such lists that those children who moved from a location to another were brought to the attention of the authorities if they had not been vaccinated.
Before mandatory laws re. administration of vaccinations were established, a multifaceted array of people acted as inoculators such as pastors, teachers, academic doctors and in Wuerttemberg even (archaic) surgeons (Wundärzte). Introduced was mandatory vaccination as early as 1818 (Württemberg) and for all of Germany it became the law in 1874 (Reichsimpfgesetz).
Source: Pocken - Seuchengeschichte
The Family History Library catalog at www.familysearch has some vaccination lists for Herzogtum Anhalt. See menu: Keywordsearch, Impflisten Sachsen Anhalt. These records contain the name of the child, birth date, name of father, when vaccinated.
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