Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

:

so far as regards the vaccination contracts, were virtually repealed in 1851, by the 14 & 15 Vict. c. 68, s. 13; and further provisions have since been made by the 21 & 22 Vict. c. 64, passed in 1858, and by 26 & 27 Vict. c. 52, passed in 1863. The last-named Act rendered vaccination compulsory in Ireland; and in the same session another Act was passed (26 & 27 Vict. c. 108), to render it compulsory in Scotland. The present volume, however, is not intended to deal with the subject in reference to those countries, but is confined to England and Wales.

The working of the Act of 1853 not being found to be entirely satisfactory, the attention of the Government was called to the subject by a memorial addressed to the General Board of Health by the Epidemiological Society in 1855 ("on a State Provision for the Prevention of Small-pox and extension of Vaccination: ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 1st March 1855"); and, in 1856, an inquiry was instituted under the direction of the General Board of Health, the result of which was communicated to Parliament in 1857, accompanied by an introductory report by Mr. Simon, the medical officer of the Board, which has been justly described by Mr. Bruce (post, p. 14) as “the standard * work on this subject."

Much valuable information as to the working of the law was also contained in the Annual Reports of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council; and eventually the subject was again brought under the attention of the Legislature.

On the 22nd February 1866, Mr. Bruce, then VicePresident of the Committee of the Privy Council on Education, and consequently authorized to act in relation to the public health (see 21 & 22 Vict. c. 97, s. 7),

[ocr errors]

introduced into the House of Commons, on behalf of the Government, a Bill “ to consolidate and amend the Statutes relating to Vaccination in England," which was read a second time, without debate, on the 8th of March, but was referred, on the 11th of April, after considerable discussion, to a Select Committee.—(See Hansard, 3rd series, vol. clxxxii, 1093-1113). The Select Committee reported on the 1st June; but on the 26th of June the Ministry resigned. Mr. Corry succeeded Mr. Bruce; and, on the 23rd July, he withdrew the Vaccination Bill, observing that he did so because “ he had ascertained from hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House that the measure was likely to meet with great opposition, and it was therefore very doubtful whether it could be carried through Parliament at so late a period of the session. Moreover, in the opinion of his noble friend the President of the Council, as well as of his right hon. friend the Home Secretary, some of its provisions required further and careful consideration."—(Hansard). On the next night, in the

” House of Lords, the President of the Council (the Duke of Buckingham), in reply to a question from Lord Shaftesbury, stated that the Bill had been withdrawn, " because, from the numerous objections raised to it, there was no hope of passing it during the present session." He added that "it would, however, receive the attention of the Government during the recess, and they hoped to be able next session to introduce a satisfactory measure."-(Hansard).

Accordingly, in the following session, on 30th April 1867, a Bill was introduced by Lord Robert Montagu, who was then the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education. Having passed through the House of Commons, after undergoing some alterations

[ocr errors]

in committee, it was sent up to the House of Lords on the 28th of June, and there referred to a select committee. The amendments made by their lordships having been agreed to by the House of Commons, the Bill received the Royal Assent on 12th August 1867.

On the introduction of the first Bill in 1866, Mr. Bruce (on going into Committee, 11th April 1866, see Hansard) gave the following sketch of the history of vaccination, and the legislation respecting it :

“ The first attempt to deal with the enormous evils of small pox was made by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1718. Inoculation was first tried on seven condemned criminals ; and the result being satisfactory, in 1722, two of the Royal Family were, by the order of King George I, inoculated. Its success being placed beyond all doubt, inoculation for some time became very popular; but it was discovered that every inoculated person while labouring under the disease was himself the centre of infection, and Sir Gilbert Blane calculated that the effect of inoculation had been to raise the per centage of deaths in small pox from 74 to 92 per

thousand of the total mortality. But at the close of last century, Dr. Jenner made his immortal discovery, by which, perhaps, more misery had been prevented by the alleviation of pain and the preservation of life than by any other discovery that had ever been made. In 1802, a committee was moved for in that House to inquire into the value of Jenner's discovery. They made a report, in which they expressed a very strong opinion of its merits. In 1806, Lord Lansdowne, being then Chancellor of the Exchequer, moved an Address to His Majesty, praying that the College of Physicians might be requested to make further inquiries. They took twelve

cent. per

months to do so. They consulted all the chief medical bodies of Scotland, England, and Ireland, and presented a most able report, to the effect that the discovery was a most valuable one, that it might be safely applied, that its effects were wholly advantageous, and in no respect injurious. In 1808, the first action of Parliament was taken. The National Vaccine Establishment was founded, and the sum of £2,000 a year had from that day to this been voted to it. Nothing further was done by Parliament, the matter being left to voluntary agency, till 1840, when then the 3 & 4 Vict. was passed, which made vaccination optional, and authorized the payment of the public vaccinator by the board of guardians. That continued, with what effects he would proceed to describe, up to 1853, when the present legislation came in force. The compulsory Act of 1853 was introduced, not by Her Majesty's Government, but by Lord Lyttelton. It was carried through the House of Lords without a division; and was introduced here by the right hon. baronet the member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington). Again, it was carried without a division, and had been the law of the land ever since. From time to time, since the passing of the Act, there had been occasional protests against it, not proceeding from any public body, but from individuals who objected on principle to vaccination. Then came the inquiries which were instituted by Sir Benjamin Hall. He directed a report to be prepared by Mr. Simon, whose work was the standard work on this subject—a work conveying the fullest instruction in a most interesting form. Mr. Simon had in 1856 referred four questions to all the medical societies in Europe, to all the principal foreign governments, and to 542 physicians of different countries, selected on

a

6

account of their known eminence and experience. With the permission of the House, he would read these questions and answers. The first question was this

• Have you any doubt that successful vaccination confers on persons subject to its influence a very large exemption from attacks of small pox, and almsot absolute security against death by that disease?' Their answers to that question 540 were distinct in, having no doubt. One distrusted vaccination, but would gladly inoculate his own children with small pox. The other (Dr. Hamernik, of Prague) regarded both inoculation and vaccination at best but harmless trifling. The second question was• Have

you any reason to believe or suspect that vaccinated persons, in being rendered less susceptible of small pox, become more susceptible of any other infective disease or of phthisis, or that their health is in

any
other
way

disadvantageously affected?' In reply to this, not one maintained that any injury arose from vaccination properly administered. Mr. Stone gave the following statistics of Christ's Hospital for more than a hundred years :-Average of boys during first fifty years, 550; during last fifty years, 800. In the first period, during which none were vaccinated, there were thirty-one deaths from small pox. In the last period, from 1801 to 1850, in which all were vaccinated, only one had died of small

pox.

The annual death rate from other diseases in hospital had greatly diminished. The third question was

• Have you any reason to believe or suspect that lymph from a true Jennerian vesicle has ever been a vehicle of syphilitic, scrofulous or other constitutional infection to the vaccinated person, or that unintentional inoculation with some other disease, instead of the proposed vaccination, has

« ForrigeFortsett »