Vaccination – 28 June 2021

Mothers and their children are gathered in a large room so that the children can be vaccinated against smallpox. Some children still wait in line, some are already vaccinated. All of the women in the picture are smiling. They smile because of conversation between them, they smile in the confidence that the vaccinations will protect their children. The child being vaccinated looks at the doctor with a puzzled expression, experiencing the pain of the scratch in her skin. The picture is full of light, coming through the windows on the left, through which the new life of the garden can be seen. This is a picture of a medical procedure through which all will be well.


The painting is Vaccination, 1899, by Anna Ancher. The artist had previously mostly painted small pictures, with one or two figures. Here she attempts a larger composition. She prepared by making many sketches, and experimented with composition and colour.


In Denmark at this time children had to be vaccinated before their seventh birthday. The vaccination of Danish children became mandatory in 1810 and was phased out in 1977. The disease was declared eradicated in 1980.


God did not make death,
and does not delight in the death of the living.
For God created all things so that they might exist;
the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
and there is no destructive poison in them.

Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-14

Come hither, mild Beauty, that dwell’st on the mountain,
Sweet handmaid of Liberty, meet us to-day;
Thy votaries philanthropy ask from thy fountain,
A soul-cheering nectar wherewith to be gay.

The cup may o’erflow, and new grapes still be growing;
The eyes of the drinkers resplendently shine;
But grant us, bright nymph, with thy gifts overflowing,
To lighten our hearts, and to relish our wine.

Is Beauty’s gay rosebud a prize worth ensuring?
Its guardianship rests with the friends of our cause.
Shall we mark unconcern’d, what the blind are enduring?
No! mercy and peace are the first of our laws.

Wave, streamers of victory; be bravery requited;
Be sails, in all climes, still with honour unfurl’d;
All lovers of man with our cause are delighted;
’Tis to banish the fears, and the tears of the world.

All nations shall feel, and all nations inherit
The wonderful blessing we place in their view;
And if in that blessing a mortal claims merit,
Oh! Jenner—your country resigns it to you!

From the field, from the farm, comes the glorious treasure,
May its life-saving impulse—all fresh as the morn
Still spread round the earth without bounds, without measure,
Till Time has forgot, when his Jenner was born.

Poem by Robert Bloomfield, 1804,

in celebration of Dr Edward Jenner and the discovery of vaccination for small pox

As we rejoice at the vaccinate roll-out, as of June 2021, less than 2% of the population of Africa has been vaccinated.