The Vaccination Controversy

The Rise, Reign and Fall of Compulsory Vaccination for Smallpox

Stanley Williamson

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ISBN: 9781846310874

Publication: December 1, 2007

In the USA? Buy the Paperback US edition
Smallpox was for several centuries one of the most deadly, most contagious and most feared of diseases, which goes some way towards explaining the controversy that surrounded nineteenth-century efforts to eradicate it. On one side were the authorities and medical men who were keen to put an end to the widespread ravages of smallpox by the most expedient means, while on the other side were ranged those parents who objected to the compulsory infliction on their children of a procedure that had no absolute guarantee of success, and that represented a gross invasion of private life. In this book, Stanley Williamson traces the origins of the vaccination controversy from the introduction from the Orient by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu of the practice of inoculation, through the championing by Edward Jenner of the new method of vaccination using cowpox, and the successive Acts of Parliament that attempted to impose the practice on a sometimes recalcitrant populace. Using contemporary newspaper accounts and the writings of those close to the centre of the controversy, Williamson paints a vivid picture of the full-scale ‘vaccination war’ that raged between the passage of the 1867 Compulsory Vaccination Act and the eventual relaxation of its demands just before the turn of the century. As well as offering a fascinating account of one of the earliest public health controversies, this book also raises issues relating to the balance between personal liberties and societal obligations that remain relevant for contemporary debates about infant vaccination.

Acknowledgements Part I: The Road to Compulsion 1. The Byzantine Operation 2. The Small Pockes 3. The Engrafted Distemper 4. The Language of Figures 5. The Suttonian System 6. The Great Benefactor 7. The Speckled Monster 8. The Three Bashaws 9. A Competent and Energetic Officer 10. Formidable Men 11. The Present Non-System 12. Toties Quoties 13. Crotchety People Part II: The Reign of Compulsion 14. A Loathsome Virus 15. A Cruel and Degrading Imposture 16. Ten Shillings or Seven Days 17. Death by Non-Vaccination 18. The Great Pox Part III: The Retreat from Compulsion 19. A Genuine Conscientious Objection Notes Bibliography Index

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 x 156 mm

256 Pages

ISBN: 9781846310874

Publication: December 1, 2007

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