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April 11, 1986

George Washington and Variolation; Edward Jenner and Vaccination-Reply

Author Affiliations

The Surgeon General Department of the Army Falls Church, Va

JAMA. 1986;255(14):1881. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370140079023

In Reply.—  In response to the letter by Dr Rabasa on smallpox inoculation of the Continental Army, it should be made clear that General George Washington did, in fact, order the entire American army to be inoculated after recognizing the serious threat of smallpox to military operations. This recommendation was made by Dr John Morgan, physicianin-chief of the American army, who wrote a treatise in 1776 entitled "Recommendation of Inoculation According to Baron Dimsdale's Method."1 The policy was implemented in 1777, by Dr William Shippen, Jr, who succeeded Morgan. Special inoculation hospitals were established to inoculate all recruits who had not experienced smallpox. Although cases of smallpox did still occur in the Army, the morbidity and mortality were considerably less than that experienced during the first two years of the war, and the vaccination program contributed significantly to the winning of independence by the colonies.2Dr Rabasa is