VACCINATION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
A parent desires to send his boy to a public school, and on the subject of this indictment it is immaterial which school is selectedEton, Harrow, Winchester, Rugby, or Marlborough,they are alike influenced by their medical attendants, who generally advise Vaccination on entrance, and again on the occasion of every small-pox epidemic. The following is a copy of a letter received in April, 1882, from one of the masters at Rugby:--
"I beg to enclose a prospectus of the school, and to add that boys are vaccinated soon after entrance, unless they have been vaccinated within a comparatively recent period. (Signed) "C. ELSER."
When the parent receives the first school-bill, he finds therein a charge of half-a-guinea for Vaccination. Now, to attack a healthy boy with an artificial disease, as is the custom, without the consent of the parents, and to charge half-a-guinea for the operation, is not only a piece of impertinence, but is a gross outrage on parental rights, if not a downright robbery, and this is the light in which it is regarded by many parents whose sons have been thus treated. Remonstrances have been made by Mr. WALTER HALL, of London, and the Rev. JOHN POSTLETHWAITE, of Broughton-in- Furness, whose sons have been subjected to Vaccination at Rugby, but without effecting any reform in this irrational and arbitrary proceeding. Nor is any reform to be expected from the school authorities, who, indeed, are generally supposed to share with the medical vaccinator, the not inconsiderable fees accruing from this practice. Let it be understood that the vaccination of 1,000 boys at a public school, may signify an addition of 500 guineas to the medical exchequer. Without imputing to the profession the advocacy of Vaccination from mercenary motives, will any reasonable person maintain that there can be no pecuniary bias when Vaccination is recommended under such circumstances? To suppose so, would be to assume a disinterestedness which is not claimed by members either of this or any other profession. Mr. HERBERT SPENCER tells us that all facts are distorted by the medium through which they reach us, and it would be absurd to assume that the value of Vaccination, when seen through spectacles which disclose such munificent rewards, is not altogether different from what it would be if the vaccinating doctors were only paid one shilling or one shilling and sixpence per head, and, as suggested by Dr. CHARLES PIGEON to the French Chambers,*
*Lettre a Messieurs les Deputes, par le Docteur CH. PIGEON. Fourchambault (Nièvre). 1883.
were made responsible for the injuries which so often, sooner or later, follow the operation. The risk, now unjustly thrown upon reluctant parents, would then, to some extent, go where it properly belonged, and those who recommend and uphold the rite would share alike the fees and the responsibility. Very persistent efforts have been made to make Vaccination a qualification for admission into the London Board Schools; and medical officials, with the connivance of the school authorities, have inspected thousands of scholars during the late epidemic in 1881, and illegally insisted on their submission to the rite. The London School Board have, either willingly or unwillingly, played into the hands of the vaccinators by demanding the production of a certificate of birth on the entrance of each child into a Board School. The zeal of vaccinating officials is shewn in the following paragraphs from The Times of Saturday, September 16th, 1882:--
"HOW TO STAMP OUT SMALLPOX.In the Annual Report of St. Saviours Board of Works, Dr. BIANCHI, the medical officer, states that, during the year, he inspected over I,900 children at the various schools in the district, and found that, of this number, 61 had never been vaccinated at all, 372 had evidences of insufficient protection by only having one or two faint marks, while the remaining number ,were sufficiently vaccinated. He gave the names and addresses of the unvaccinated children to the vaccination officer, and requested him to take steps to have them vaccinated immediately. 168 cases of small-pox occurred during the year, 20 of which proved fatal."
The 372 cases of only one or two faint marks had, doubtless, been certified as successfully vaccinated.
This inquisitorial system has been instigated by the Local Government Board in a most despotic manner. Their report for last year says:---
"The result of these visitations appears to have been very satisfactory. Many unvaccinated children were discovered who had been born in other districts, and a large number of vaccinations were secured. In Bethnal Green, for instance, 17,380 houses were visited, and 1,978 children were found unvaccinated, of whom 1,028 are known to have been afterwards operated upon with success. Similarly, in Fulham, 17,783 houses were visited, 465 unvaccinated children were discovered, and of these all but 45 were subsequently duly accounted for as regards Vaccination."