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Whittemore's Vaccinator

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | December 01, 2013
From the December 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The picture and description appear courtesy of Dr. M. Donald Blaufox, M.D., Ph.D, from his website: www.mohma.org.

Each month we visit Dr. Blaufox’s Museum of Historical Medical Artifacts to take a look back at the medical equipment that cleared the way for what patients encounter in doctors’ offices and operating rooms of today. Some equipment may be recognizable, while other inventions featured here have since become obsolete or have had their usefulness discredited.

Category: Vaccination

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Estimated Date: 1866

Name: Vaccinator, Whittemores

Manufacturer: Codman and Shurtleff

Description: This device is sized at just 2.25”x 0.75” body with a finger loop as part of the assembly. The tip of the vaccinator is a hollow tube for holding the vaccine or serum. It is activated by a lever on the top, which both cocks and releases the blade. One side holds the inscription “made by Codman and Shurtleff, Boston” and on the other “Whittemore’s Patent, Feb 21, 1866.” These are often mistaken for bleeders.

Pre 1900s, this type of tool may have been used to deliver vaccines to some serious diseases, but most of the major vaccines used today were developed decades later. At the time Whittemore’s vaccinator was available, just smallpox had a vaccine, with rubella, measles, mumps, polio and other dreaded diseases still running unchecked.

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