Meet the vegetarian anti-vaxxers who led the smallpox inoculation backlash in Victorian Britain

Susan S. Johnson
<span class="caption">The Cow-Pock - or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation! (1802) by James Gillray.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gillray#/media/File:The_cow_pock.jpg" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:wikipedia">wikipedia</a></span>
The Cow-Pock – or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation! (1802) by James Gillray. wikipedia

As the world hangs its hope on a new vaccine for COVID-19, it is easy to forget how controversial these life-saving treatments have been throughout history. People may have heard some of the divisive and controversial arguments of today’s anti-vaxxers. But it is perhaps more surprising to learn that there was a significant backlash from vegetarians and animal rights advocates when the first smallpox vaccines were being introduced almost 200 years ago.

When smallpox vaccination was introduced in England in 1840, the

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