BY THE DUCHESS OF HAMILTON.
(Reprinted from the “Daily Herald”).
At present there are two main schools of thought in the world of healing the school that is looking for a vaccine or a serum for protection from, or the cure of, every disease, and the school that spurns the very idea of inoculations of any kind for such purposes, pinning it faith to right method of living a the only successful way to attain health.
The apostles of the vaccine and serum school believe that diseases are caused by germs. The apostles of the “right methods of living” school dispute this idea.
They maintain the germs are the result, and not the cause, of disease, that they play a beneficent part in the economy of life, and that both in theory and practice the advocates of inoculation fail to substantiate their claims.
Both schools of thought have certain ideas in common. Both believe in the beneficial results of economic and sanitary improvement; both teach, as Sir Arthur Newsholme has stated in the Daily Herald, that “filth was diseases principal ally.”.
But in actual practice believers in inoculation pin their faith to vaccines and serums, regardless of the teaching of experience in such matters, which proves, without the shadow of a doubt, that no amount of vaccination or inoculation will prevent disease where insanitary conditions prevail; while, on the other hand, there is not the slightest need of those practices when conditions are good.
There is also a vital objection to them, quite apart from the misery they cause to millions of animals. It is recorded in official reports and medical literature that they injure and kill a certain number of those who submit to them.
The first form of general inoculation was the inoculation of smallpox matter, pronounced by the Royal College of Physicians in the middle of he eighteenth century to be “highly salutary to the human race,” and made a penal offence, punishable with a months imprisonment, some ninety years after the medical claim was made for it.
Jenners vaccination followed, introduced in 1798. Believing, without the slightest proof, that Jenner was right when he claimed that a single inoculation of his cowpox would protect ” for ever after” from smallpox, parliament in 1806 voted him L10,000, and two years later gave him a further L20,000.
Dr. Farr, the eminent statistician, pointed out that smallpox, in common with other fevers, was declining before vaccination was introduced, but the advocates of the operation ignored this fact and claimed this decline as the result if vaccination.
However, a terrible smallpox outbreak in 1838, forty years after the introduction of vaccination, proved to those who were willing to listen to the voice of reason that the claims for vaccination were unwarranted.
But the advocates of Jenner system maintained that it was the practice of smallpox inoculation that had caused the outbreak and had that practice suppressed by the Vaccination Act of 1840, which also put vaccination on the rates.
The poorer classes distrusted vaccination. They had evidence of its dangerous nature and of its inability to prevent or modify smallpox. Advocates of the operation pressed for its enforcement, and secured the passage of the compulsory law of 1853, which certainly did increase the amount of vaccination practised.
It did not stop smallpox epidemics, however, for the official records show that they became more widespread as vaccination increased, until thy culminated in the terrible outbreak of 1871- 72, when 42,000 persons died from smallpox in England and Wales, at a time when, according to evidence given before the Select Committee inquiry into the Vaccination Act of 1867, 972 per cent. of the population over two years and under fifty had either been vaccinated or had smallpox.
We were reaching the high-water mark of vaccination in this country at the time of that epidemic, a stringently compulsory Vaccination Act having been passed in 1867, four years before.
Side by side with advocacy of vaccination, Chadwicks campaign for sanitary improvements had been carried on.
The smallpox epidemic of 1871-72 gave an impetus to the movement for sanitary reform, and in 1875 the great public Health Act was passed. The economic condition of the poorer classes also improved. Some of the worst slums were cleared away.
From 1889, vaccination began to decline in England and Vales, and coincident with this decline smallpox also decreased until to-day, with less than 40 per cent. of the infants born vaccinated, the smallpox deaths number only two or three per annum in a population of forty million persons.
Statistics prove incontestably that the presence or absence of smallpox has nothing whatever to do with vaccination; that it is a disease of poverty, filth, overcrowding, and wrong living generally; and that it can be introduced over and over again into an unvaccinated population without spreading.
The most vaccinated and re-vaccinated countries, like Japan, Italy, and the Philippine Islands, have had the worst smallpox record.
If vaccination were only useless, social reformers would still object to it as a waste of money and as system that obscures the truth in regard to disease and its conquest.
Many of us would also oppose it for its horrible cruelty to animals. But the fact that it is also a dangerous operation has caused even the Ministry of Health officials themselves to consider the complete abolition of all compulsion in the matter.
For one hundred years the arm-to-arm system was practised in this country, although the official records for many years revealed at least one death a week from the operation, and although it was admitted by medical men that syphilis could be spread by this means.
Then, in 1898, glycerinated calf lymph became the official vaccine, and despite the cruelty to calves and rabbits used for the propagation of the lymph and the continued record of deaths from the operation, for thirty-six years the Government has pressed this lymph on the public by every possible means.
Now, we learn from the medical papers, it is to be discarded and a substance grown in hens eggs is to be used, if and this is a very big “if” it can be shown that it does not cause inflammation of the brain, as the present lymph occasionally does.
The fact that such a dangerous and useless system could have received official recognition and been made compulsory should make Daily Herald readers pause before they accept the claims for anti-typhoid and other inoculations, which are just as unwarranted.
Typhoid fever is caused by an impure water supply or by the ingestion of contaminated good. During the Boer War the great majority of British troops going to the Cape were inoculated on the transports, but this did not prevent 51,000 of them being stricken with typhoid, of whom 8,000 died.
So great was the failure of the system that Mr. Brodrick stopped its use in the Army, and it was only after three War Office Committees had sat to investigate the claims of its inventor that it was restored to use on a voluntary basis.
When the European War broke out, our Army authorities had learned their lesson through observations in the Russo-Japanese War, and the troops on the Western Front were supplied with unpolluted drinking water, while the sanitation of the camps was unparalleled in history, with the result that only some 7,000 cases of typhoid and paratyphoid occurred in that area, half of them in inoculated and half in uninoculated men.
But in Gallipoli, where it was impossible to safeguard the water supply, there were 96,000 cases of intestinal disease, despite the fact that practically all the troops in that area had been inoculated against typhoid, dysentery, and other diseases.
And for every disease the lesson is the same no inoculations can prevent the results of poverty, wrong living, and insanitation, while they may cause untold harm by interference with the blood and with the nervous system.