VACCINATION IN THE POLICE FORCE.
In this department of the public service, the same ordeal must be gone through; policemen are required to be vaccinated when they enter the force, and are subjected to re-vaccination during times of epidemic. I have heard of policemen who said they had been vaccinated six or seven times, and had even then been severely attacked by small-pox. The following letter is from the Chief of Police, in reply to an inquiry as to the regulations in practice :
WHITEHALL PLACE, S.W., 1st May, 1882.
"SIR,I have to acquaint you that, by direction of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, all men who join the Metropolitan Police Force are vaccinated prior to their admission. There are not any printed regulations on the subject.
"Your obedient servant,
(Signed) "E. Y. W. HENDERSON."
The Head of the Police throws the responsibility of this medical infliction upon the Home Secretary, Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT, who, in turn, would, doubtless, father it upon the Medical Department of the Privy Council. At any rate, many of Sir WILLIAM HARCOURTS constituents will be surprised at his issue of such an order, for when, during his candidature in 1881, he was waited upon at Derby by a deputation of anti-vaccinators, he made use of the following words in his reply :
"If it can be shewn that Vaccination does not diminish small-pox, compulsion cannot be justified. As to other diseases being conveyed by the vaccine matter, it is very probable that such is the case, even when great care is taken, but it is the question of the balance of advantages."
Now, if Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT would study the Registrar-Generals Returns, he would see that small-pox epidemics have paid no respect to Vaccination, as will be shewn hereafter; and, as he admits the dangers attending the operation, he could hardly do less than rescind this edict, and leave it to those useful public servants to decide whether they will incur the risk or not. Mr. H. D. DUDGEON, of Quorn, writes, under date September 22nd, 1882:--
"There are two ex-policemen near here incapacitated since their revaccination, and consequently invalided. People who suffer, seldom like to be advertised in any way, and it may easily be understood that it is felt as a sort of stigma to have it said, that a man or his child has become permanently diseased or disabled by Vaccination. There is also fear of the land-owner, the pressure of parish magnates, and of possible pecuniary loss, should they incautiously bring Vaccination into disrepute."
A policeman on duty near Rotten Row, Hyde Park, was interviewed on the 2nd of April last, and said that "all policemen were vaccinated on joining the force, and re-vaccinated, if possible, during epidemics. One occurred two years ago, and all the men were offered Vaccination, but all refused as far as I know; I would not stand it myself." If policemen do their duty by protecting our lives and property, the State has no right to subject them to a useless operation, which is now admitted to be not unfrequently attended with serious and fatal results.