This article discusses the impact of smallpox and vaccination practices used against the disease used in the province of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, during the Imperial Period (1822-1889). Despite the existence of services responsible for the organization and dissemination of the vaccine in the country since the early 19th century, some administrative and cultural factors, as identified in documents produced by the province's public health authorities at the time, had a negative impact upon the full implementation of both practice and organization of services aimed at the dissemination of smallpox vaccination. Based upon historiographic sources, it is argued that despite the trend towards centralization observed at different governmental spheres during the structuring of the Imperial State, in particular, in the provision of vaccination services, there was a prevailing disharmony between the different agencies responsible for the implementation and management of such services. A further contributor to the difficulties in the service implementation was the resistance of the population to submit to the vaccination, a phenomenon that can be best understood through examination of the social construction of perceptions about diseases and the vaccination method used against the smallpox.
Smallpox; Vaccination; Public Health; History of Minas Gerais; Brazil Empir