History of “Antivaccinationists”

Fitchett, Joseph R. and Heymann, David L.: Smallpox Vaccination and Opposition by Anti-vaccination Societies in 19th Century Britain, Historia Medicine Vol. 2, Issue 1.

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With a 30% death rate from smallpox… “The Vaccination Act was first introduced in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1840 to provide free vaccination for the poor and forbid the practice of variolation, increasingly considered as dangerous.[xv] The Vaccination Act went even further in 1853 making vaccination compulsory for all infants aged less than 3 months and threatened any uncooperative parents with fines and imprisonment. To some, this was an infringement of inviolable civil liberties and one of the most memorable examples of restriction of freedom in the name of public health and health security. To the authorities, it was a justified restriction of an individual’s freedom of choice for the protection of the public from unnecessary suffering. Undeterred, the Vaccination Act of 1867 expanded the age bracket for compulsory vaccination from 3 months to 14 years, leading to cumulative penalties for those that would not comply. Cumulative fines meant that defaulters could be repeatedly fined, with the fine increased on each occasion until the original default was rectified. In addition, the post of Vaccination Officer was created for local authorities to oversee and implement the safe practice of vaccination in their area.[xvi] ”

So, vaccination was first made compulsory in 1853, and the provisions were made more stringent in 1867, 1871, and 1874…. But in 1898 a new vaccination law was passed, giving conditional exemption of conscientious objectors, (and substituting calf lymph for humanised lymph). It removed cumulative penalties and introduced a conscience clause, allowing parents who did not believe vaccination was efficacious or safe to obtain a certificate of exemption, and in 1907 these were further protected. The Vaccination Act was repealed in 1946.