1919 Public Health Vaccination Certificate During Mandatory Student Smallpox Vaccine Effort

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On offer is a piece of ephemera that marks a moment in Toronto’s public health history that is reminiscent of a time those who lived through 2020-2022 will not soon forget. 

In November of 1919, the Spanish Flu was still seeing ebbs and flows throughout Canada, but the Toronto public’s focus was shifted to smallpox as an outbreak in Toronto was declared in early November. Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles J. Hastings, used the power of his office to mandate the smallpox vaccine for all students as a condition of their attendance in school. 

Dated November, 1919, this is a Toronto Public Health Vaccine Certificate issued to Bert Hudson of 319 Bartlett in Toronto. Hudson’s full name was Bertram Ellis Peter Hudson (b. 1908). He was 11-years-old at the time he received his vaccine and this certificate. 

While the certificate does not indicate which vaccine Bert received, given the history described above, this was very likely his smallpox vaccination certificate. It was issued by the Toronto Department of Public Health on November 27, 1919, and indicates he was “successfully vaccinated” on November 14, 1919. It indicates Chas. J. Hastings, M.D. as Medical Officer of Health and is signed LJS, by an unknown hand.

This simple piece of ephemera symbolizes an early move toward mandatory vaccination in the schools which has gone on to become a polarizing and political topic. It would make an excellent addition to the collection of an infectious disease researcher or someone on either side of the ongoing mandatory vaccination debate.

The certificate measures 8.5" x 5.5". It has some bends, folds and creases and age toning appropriate to its date. Overall G.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)

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