Vaccinations in Denmark

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Church Records
Vaccinations in Denmark

Vaccination comes from the word "vacca", which means cow. Around the year 1800 the English doctor Edward Jenner discovered that some milkmaids in his locality did not get smallpox The girls who had had cowpox and were protected from the illness. The girls also did not get scarred by the cowpox and so Jenner became the first to administer systematic vaccinations. The first to vaccinate in Denmark, was doctor Frederik Christian Winsløw in Copenhagen. That was in 1801, he got vaccine direct from Jenner. There had been some attempts at vaccination before, but not systematically. For example, the doctor for King Christian the Seventh, Johann Friedrich Struensee, inoculated the King's son who would later be known as Frederick the Sixth and a small medal commemorating the event was struck.

Mandatory vaccinations starting in 1810

In the beginning of the 1800s, Denmark was hit by a severe smallpox epidemic. As a result, vaccinations became statutory with a law on 4 March 1810. Unless a person had had "natural pox", the law required vaccination. Until about the middle of the 1800s, the vaccination date, as a rule, was recorded in the parish registers with the person's confirmation and blessing. The vaccination date can therefore be used to confirm that two people are identical.

Vaccination were not always given by doctors. For example, priests, sextons and school teachers were trained to administer vaccinations, therefore you may also find vaccination lists in certain parish registers.

Birthplace included in the protocols

The vaccination protocols as a rule call for the vaccinated child's name, father's name, the child's birthplace and birthdate. The protocols also tell a little about the child's general health. For example, it may say that the child is "robust," "slender," or "snotty". But as a rule is usually just say that the child's general health is "good".


Statens Arkiver. Vaccination. Denmark: Landsarkivet for Sjælland Lolland-Falster & Bornholm, 2008