VACCINATION IN THE WORKHOUSES.
A starving mother is compelled to go to the workhouse to give birth to her child, and children born under such adverse circumstances, as the high registration rate of mortality indicates, have no ordinary difficulties to contend with. Their physical vitality is often of the feeblest description, and would need the tenderest nurture, even amidst favorable surroundings, to give them a fair chance in the struggle for life. To afflict such ill-conditioned children with a wound, and introduce an artificial disease like cow-pox, which always produces an illness, and sometimes death, is, under such circumstances, inhuman. But what will be said of vaccinating such children when only a few days old? Yet such is the habitual practice at some of the Metropolitan Workhouses, and it is done under the sanction and with the authority of the Local Government Board! A circular addressed to Clerks of Guardians, dated January 2 7th, 1881, and sent to all the Unions, says:
"Some Boards of Guardians have passed a resolution requiring the medical officer, subject to the exercise of his judgment as to making exceptions in particular cases, to secure the Vaccination of all children born in the workhouse as soon as possible after birth; and it has been found practicable, as a rule, to vaccinate children when six days old, and to inspect .the results on the thirteenth day, as the mothers, in such cases, rarely leave the workhouse within a fortnight after their confinement."
Dr. G. E. YARROW, public vaccinator and medical officer to the Holborn Union, stated, in the Lancet for April 2nd, 1881, that he had vaccinated between five and six hundred infants under seven days old, and the medical officer of the Lambeth Infirmary reports to the same journal that he is in the habit of vaccinating children 24 hours old! The Holborn Board of Guardians, to the credit of their humanity and good sense, have rebelled against this Herodian cruelty, and refused to go beyond the general law, which prescribes a limit of three months for all children, except the mother consents; and Dr. YARROW admits (British Medical Journal, April 2nd, 1881), that the practical result of this change will be, that, instead of 16 per cent. of the workhouse children being vaccinated as heretofore, there will now be none. He adds, "for even if they remained long enough, anyone may perceive how useless it would be to waste time in urging the point with the class of persons I have described." Finding this prediction realized, the Local Government Board have written to the Holborn Guardians to know "why such a small percentage of children born in the workhouse were vaccinated ?" One unfortunate infant, the daughter of CHARLOTTE WILLIAMS, was vaccinated by Dr. W. M. DUNLOP, medical officer of the St. Pancras Workhouse, London, when seven days old. The mother left the workhouse on the 23rd of December last, and, finding the infants arm swollen from its elbow to the fingers, *
* "Some of the vaccinators use real instruments of torture-ivory points are driven into the flesh, and wounds ensue which become erysipelatous, and, in delicate constitutions of weakly children, fatal."Dr. ALLNATT, in The Times, August 31st, 1882.
took it to Dr. CHALMERS, 43, Caledonian Road, Islington, who attended it until it succumbed, some days afterwards, in great suffering. An inquest was held upon the body by Dr. DANFORD THOMAS, on the 11th of January, when a verdict was returned by the jury "that death was caused by suppurative meningitis, following ulceration of vaccine vesicles on the arm, and they were of opinion, from the result of the post mortem examination, that it would have been well to have postponed Vaccination in the present case." Dr. CHALMERS, who had attended the child, stated that he "had not much doubt that death had resulted from the depressing effects of the Vaccination." The medical officer, Dr. DUNLOP, deposed that he had performed the operation on 3,000 children, but had never had a similar case before. But it is not easy to understand how he could arrive at so satisfactory a conclusion, seeing that the parents usually leave the workhouse a fortnight after birth, and immediately after the operation, and that these early vaccinations are only defended on the ground "that it might be impossible to trace the mothers whereabouts." "Stripped of all technicalities," says the Echo, "the verdict of the jury was Death from Vaccination." Dr. BALLARD, Inspector of Vaccination for the Local Government Board, was present at this inquest, and did his utmost to prevent the return of a verdict so damaging to vaccine prestige. When asked by the Coroner whether there was any objection to these early vaccinations, he responded with alacrity, "Not a bit in the world." ,. On referring, however, to Dr. BALLARDS Essay on Vaccination, for which the author received a prize of £100, we find that, when discussing the question of vaccinating new-born infants, he adduces the testimony of eminent physicians leading to an entirely opposite conclusion. BOUSQUET avers that "in very young infants the intestines sympathise, and that enteritis or diarrhoea may result." BARTHEZ " met with two cases in which infants vaccinated on the second day from birth, suffered severely from the effects of Vaccination, and one of them died." M. LEGROUX states that "he has been in the habit of vaccinating newly-born infants, and has become convinced that the number of punctures has much to do with the occasional accidents that followed." M. DANYAN, at the Paris Maternité,*
* The Countess DE NOAILLES writes, January 14th, 1883: "Madame DR SAULCY, one of the ex-Empresss ladies, told me that at the Maternité, where babies were vaccinated a week after birth, they meurent comme les mouches " (die like flies).
deposes that out of 200 infants vaccinated on the first days of birth, only three accidents occurredone an abscess, which got well, and two cases of erysipelas of the arm, one of which was fatal. Concerning the foregoing witnesses, Dr. BALLARD says:"These writers do not denyas, indeed, they cannot that accidents sometimes happen, and that the lesson these accidents impart to us is this, that Vaccination is not a thing to trifle with or to make light of." And, again, "Let every parent remember, and let the doctor remember, that they are inflicting upon the child a positive disease." This publication, which it is generally believed led to Dr. BALLARDS appointment as Government Inspector of Vaccination, contains also much valuable and instructive matter, including 100 pages devoted to the alleged dangers of Vaccination, in which various syphilitic disasters are recorded, in no respect less terrible than that which occurred at Algier in December 1880. This book has, unfortunately, long been out of print. Since Dr. BALLARDS appointment his present lucrative position on the Local Governmen board, he has been most respectfully silent concerning the injurious and fatal consequences so frequently following Vaccination and so unreservedly avowed in his Essay.