The bifurcated needle is a two-pronged, approximately 2.5-inch-long piece of steel, designed to hold freeze-dried smallpox vaccine between its two prongs. It can administer up to one hundred vaccinations out of just one vial of the freeze-dried vaccine. The established method of vaccination entailed that the needle be dipped in the vaccine, and then punctured into a person's upper left arm fifteen times to create a small circle. The most effective vaccination will result in a small drop of blood running down the vaccinated arm.
Dr. Benjamin Rubin and Gus Chakros invented the bifurcated needle in 1961 as a means by which to deliver a smallpox vaccination. The bifurcated needle was invented as a more efficient and cost effective alternative to the jet injector. It was the primary instrument used during the World Health Organization's smallpox eradication campaign from 1966 to 1977, which was spearheaded by Dr. D.A. Henderson.
- Tucker, Jonathan. Scourge. New York: Grove Press, 2001.
- Tucker, Jonathan. Scourge. New York: Grove Press, 2001