Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/351

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VACCINATION IN NEW YORK.

331

vaccination law, which opens up all the old issues and affords opportunity for sending broadcast statements of the most sensational and mischievous character. These have recently been collected by a well-known littérateur and forwarded as a newspaper letter to this country, where, on account of their startling and sensational character, they have been somewhat widely copied.

It is charged in these statements—

1. That several terrible diseases, such as syphilis, cancer, consumption, and scrofulous diseases generally are widely scattered and communicated by vaccination. One vaccinator of twelve years' experience is made to say, "If I had the desire to describe one third of the victims ruined by vaccination, the blood would stand still in your veins." Another, "I have seen hundreds of children killed by it." A medical journal is quoted as saying that consumption has widely spread since the introduction of vaccination; which is very likely also true as regards lawn-mowers and pedestrian matches. A physician to the London Cancer Hospital declares that many of the cases of cancer treated at that institution originated with vaccination! A physician testifies before a Parliamentary committee that eleven out of thirteen children whom he vaccinated became syphilitic. Another declares that a large proportion of apparently inherited syphilis is really imparted through vaccination. A large number of cases of various kinds are cited with full and harrowing details, some of which have been subjects of discussion in medical circles during the past twelve or fourteen years.

2. It is charged that vaccination does not protect its subjects from small-pox. It is pronounced "not only an illusion but a curse to humanity"; "The greatest mistake and delusion in the science of medicine"; "A fanciful illusion in the mind of the discoverer, devoid of scientific foundation." It states that, out of 22,000 cases of smallpox treated in five London hospitals in five years, 17,000 had been vaccinated; and, furthermore, that, since compulsory vaccination had been established, the death-rate from small-pox had more than doubled. Such, in brief, according to these very remarkable statements, have been the results of vaccination in England, and it is in contrast with these statements that the results of vaccination as practiced in the city of New York are here presented.

Previous to the epidemic of small-pox in 1874-'75, vaccination had been fairly practiced, but in the same loose and unsystematic manner as was formerly the custom everywhere. Some physicians vaccinated the children of the families in which they were medical attendants and some did not. Vaccination was performed free to those who desired it at all the dispensaries, but no special care was taken to see that all the children in the several districts were vaccinated. Some physicians exercised skill and judgment in collecting the virus and doing the work of vaccination, while others were careless and slovenly.