Napoleon also campaigned for vaccination against the virus


In 2021, the authorities are calling for a coronavirus vaccination. Over 200 years ago, the authorities were already setting a good example when our regions were under French rule.


In 1794, French revolutionary troops expelled the Austrians from the Southern Netherlands and the following year, France annexed these territories.


Napoleon brought with him many administrative and social innovations. Under the Empire, the territory was divided into departments, which have now disappeared, although they mostly corresponded to our current provinces. In addition, censuses, the establishment of civil status, military service, the land register, the decimal metric system, odd and even house numbers, etc., are imperial innovations that are still in use today.


At the head of a department was a prefect. This was a senior civil servant who generally devoted himself wholeheartedly to his duties and left a positive mark on many policy areas, such as the new health policy. One of its spearheads was vaccination against the dreaded cowpox. The prefects did everything possible to overcome the population's resistance and superstition about the vaccine. In 1801, Antoine Desmousseaux de Givré, the Prefect of the Belgian department of the Ourthe, even had himself and his wife and children publicly vaccinated in Liège. He hoped to set an example for others to follow.


Does that sound familiar …?