Vaccinations have been around longer than you may think. The small pox vaccination, which had been available freely since 1841, was made compulsory in 1853 for children in their first three months of life. The local registrars gave blank vaccination certificates to parents of newly born children, who had to return them within the specified time, signed by a medical man to indicate a successful vaccination, or face a fine. Poor Law guardians set up the public vaccination service and the vaccinations were usually performed by the Poor Law medical officers. Surviving vaccination certificates can be found in county record offices and can help in family history research. The records show the name and age of the child, the name of a parent (usually the father), the address, parish and name of person issuing the certificate.