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To the Editor:—
In your communication on Benjamin Waterhouse—The American Jenner (JAMA188:929 [June 8] 1964) you stated that he began his work with smallpox vaccination in June, 1800.I have an interesting document in my possession indicating that this procedure was practiced in my locality much before that time. It is in longhand and is quoted as follows: Fairfield, April 21-1782 These certify that we permit the wife of Joshua Jennings of Greens Farms in Fairfield to be innoculated for the Smallpox and to receive said infection by innoculation—she having been involuntarily exposed to have taken sd. infection. And. Rowland Gould S. Silliman Abram. Andrews Sam'l Squier Gershom Hubbell Increase Bradley Jus[tices of] Peace Thaddeus Burr David Allen } Selectmen Nehemiah Banks JI presume this gave the local physician legal permission to go ahead with the vaccination procedure.
Ellrich DL. Smallpox Vaccination in Fairfield, 1782. JAMA. 1964;189(7):588. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070070060029