The old English proverb, “history repeats itself” is never better illustrated than in the practice of vaccination, a practice that became widespread in the nineteenth century and is still carried on today. A number of nineteenth century books on vaccination raise issues that are remarkably similar to those of today. However, because we have failed to learn the lessons presented by earlier writers, mostly physicians, we are now repeating the same mistakes, with dire consequences for the health of the population.
The purpose of this article is to consider what some of the notable physicians of the time had to say about vaccination; it is not to provide data for their opinions, although that data is available but beyond the scope of an article.
Four issues raised in the nineteenth century will be described and compared with today. First, the article will look at the refusal to accept data about vaccination; second, it will discuss the scientific debate about vaccination; third, it will consider mass vaccination and its consequences and fourth, it will criticize compulsory vaccination.
1. Refusal to Accept Data
Edward Jenner, an English apothecary, believing a rumour amongst dairymaids that succumbing to cowpox, a mild disease, prevented smallpox, decided to test out this rumour by inserting cowpox pus under a human’s skin to induce a case of cowpox. If the subject got cowpox, he would then try and induce smallpox.
Despite Jenner’s reputation as being the first to try out cowpox inoculation he “cannot be accredited with original discovery in the matter of cowpox inoculation, since all the chroniclers name Benjamin Jesty—a Dorsetshire farmer—Plett, a teacher, and Jensen, a Holstein farmer, as “successful experimenters” in the field of cowpox vaccination several years before Jenner’s first inoculation.”1 Perhaps their names are not recorded in history because the procedure did not prevent smallpox?
The truth of the rumour that having had cowpox protected you from smallpox could have been tested by a simple survey; that is, recording how many people with smallpox had had cowpox. Anyhow, many people knew it was false. Walter Hadwen, JP, MD, LRCP, MRCS, LSA, said in an address to the public on January 25, 1896 “When he (Jenner) first heard the story of the cowpox legend he began to mention it at the meetings of the medico-convivial society, where the old doctors of the day met to smoke their pipes, drink their glasses of grog, and talk over their cases. But he no sooner mentioned it than they laughed at it. The cow doctors could have told him of hundreds of cases where smallpox had followed cowpox.”2 (A cow doctor was a vet.)
Even Jenner’s supporters acknowledged the falseness of the rumour. The second report of the Royal Jennerian Society, 1806, states, “The Committee admit to having seen a few cases of smallpox by persons who had passed through the cow-pox in the usual way.”3 Nevertheless, despite the underlying false premise, experimentation went ahead.
Jenner’s first experiment on 8-year old James Phipps took place on May 14, 1796. He then repeated the procedure on several other children. Convinced of the success of his experiments he promised the credulous George III that his vaccine would have “the singularly beneficial effect of rendering through life the person so inoculated perfectly secure from the infection of the smallpox.”4
The king conveyed to parliament his desire that Jenner be awarded a benefaction out of the public purse and the equivalent of half a million dollars was awarded. From then on vaccination spawned an army of paid vaccinators who enforced the practice with zeal.
Cases of smallpox following vaccination began to occur with alarming frequency. Winterburn cites numerous instances. For example, “The Smallpox Hospital, London, is believed to be a fair representative of English experience: the number of cases of smallpox after vaccination has steadily risen from about 5% at the beginning of this century to 44% in 1845, 64% in 1855, 78% in 1865, 90% in 1875, and is now (1885) about 96%.”5
Not only were there more cases of smallpox, there were more deaths from it. The report of Dr. William Farr, Compiler of Statistics of the Registrar General of London stated: “Smallpox attained its maximum mortality after vaccination was introduced. The mean annual mortality for 10,000 population from 1850 to 1869 was at the rate of 2.04, whereas after compulsory vaccination in 1871 the death rate was 10.24. In 1872 the death rate was 8.33 and this after the most laudable efforts to extend vaccination by legislative enactments.”6
Despite these figures and numerous others reported, pro-vaccinists continued to pronounce that vaccination prevented smallpox. They still do.
After a disastrous smallpox epidemic in 1872, a Royal Commission on Vaccination was appointed in 1889 to look into the whole matter. Seven years and 136 meetings later the Commission issued “five principal reports, consisting of closely printed matter, together with the eight bulky appendices, weigh altogether more than 14 lb. avoirdupois!” Despite this weighty contrary evidence, it failed “to make a dent in their triple-plate conviction that in spite of everything vaccination does prevent smallpox!”7
Dr. Maclean, a well-known medical authority of the time, offered an explanation for the “triple-plate conviction” when he said, in 1810, “It will be thought incumbent on the vaccinators to come forward and disprove the numerous facts decisive against vaccination stated on unimpeachable authority, or make the amende honorable by a manly recantation. But experience forbids us to expect any such fair and magnanimous proceeding, and we may be assured that, under no circumstances, will they abandon so lucrative a practice, until the practice abandons them.”8
Maclean’s words are still true. The same conviction that vaccines prevent disease persists today, a conviction accompanied by the same downplaying of any evidence to the contrary.
In 2012 research reported by Reuters reveals that whooping cough outbreaks are higher among vaccinated children compared with unvaccinated children. This conclusion is based on a study led by Dr. David Witt, an infectious disease specialist at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, California.
Witt reported that in early 2010, a spike in cases appeared at Kaiser Permanente in San Rafael, and it was soon determined to be an outbreak of whooping cough — the largest seen in California in more than 50 years. Witt had expected to see the illness target unvaccinated kids, thinking they are more vulnerable to the disease. “We started dissecting the data. What was very surprising was the majority of cases were in fully vaccinated children. That’s what started catching our attention.”9 Witt should be congratulated for admitting this fact.
We have figures from the 1800s showing that large percentages of smallpox cases had been vaccinated and we have figures from 2010 showing that the majority of pertussis cases had been vaccinated, yet people continue to believe that vaccination prevents disease. How many more lessons do we need?
Not only did cowpox pus not prevent smallpox, it fostered its spread and produced numerous adverse effects. In 1807, Mr. Birch, of St. Thomas Hospital and Surgeon Extraordinary to the then Prince of Wales, said, “It is no infrequent thing, however, to hear a public vaccinator say that he has vaccinated a certain number of thousands and has never seen the slightest evil resulting. Well, one need not see the sun, if he will only resolutely shut his eyes. Again, I am sorry to say, that many medical men who recognize evil results, imagine that they may be covered up by prevarication. As if any good was ever done by a lie.”10
Today, only a fraction of adverse events following vaccination are reported. In the US, Congress passed its National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986. The Act required all doctors who administer vaccines to report reactions to federal health officials. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that only 10% of doctors report such incidents.11
Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler estimated in a 1993 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that although the FDA receives many reports of adverse events, these probably represent only a fraction of those encountered by providers.12
Only adverse events that present within a few days of vaccination are considered to be the result of the vaccine; more chronic effects, such as asthma, are not associated with vaccination by the Authorities. A comparative study of vaccinated and non-vaccinated children would answer many questions but for some reason Health Authorities refuse to do it.
Two small comparative studies have been done by parent groups: one in New Zealand  and one in California . Both studies showed that chronic conditions, such as autism, asthma and eczema, were more prevalent in vaccinated children. Whatever the results, why should parent groups have to conduct research that should be done by Health Authorities?
Back in the 1800s the injection of cowpox pus under the skin caused many diseases: syphilis, tuberculosis, and leprosy in particular. Records of this secondary infection include, for example: in 1867, M. Depaul, the chief of the Vaccination Service of the French Academy of Medicine, published an essay on the danger of syphilitic infection through vaccination. He enumerated half a dozen outbreaks of vaccinal-syphilis, in the course of which 160 children had been infected.15
Dr. A. Wilder, Professor of Pathology and former editor of The New York Medical Times, went so far as to say in 1901, “Vaccination is the infusion of a contaminating element into the system, and after such contamination you can never be sure of regaining the former purity of the body. Consumption (TB) follows in the wake of vaccination as certainly as effect follows cause.”16
Today’s children will certainly never regain their former “purity of the body” after being assaulted with vaccines from Day One. Not only do they suffer from chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and eczema but in 2012 the autism rate was 1:88 children and, as boys are more affected than girls, their rate is 1:54.
Instead of a massive research effort to explore the reason for this epidemic governments and the corporate press go to extraordinary lengths to deny any link between autism and vaccination despite the proven fact that metals such as aluminum and mercury, used in vaccines, cause neurological damage.
But a $17 billion a year industry is threatened.
2. Scientific Debate About Vaccination
That people can discuss issues, basing their arguments on verifiable data, is crucial in all fields of endeavor but more so in issues affecting health and well-being. One has only to look at the discussion forums around vaccination, whether for or against, to quickly realize that ignorance, prejudice and ad hominem attacks prevail.
For example, from Rational (sic) Wiki, “Suzanne Humphries is a nephrologist (kidney doctor) who has recently become a vocal proponent of pseudoscience and quack medicine. Humphries has been involved with the International Medical Council on Vaccination, a front group for vaccine hysteria …”17 The author is anonymous and has repeatedly reversed sections of the webpage after Dr Humphries attempted to correct her credentials and other overtly false information about her publications.
That Dr. Humphries is an internist and board-certified nephrologist, who enjoyed a successful career until she spoke her truth about vaccination, and that the IMCV is composed of highly credentialed people may, of course, be discounted when it comes to vaccination. Furthermore, any zealot with computer access feels free to hurl abuse at our most educated citizens because they, presumably, are in possession of irrefutable knowledge relayed by Fox news and can follow the democratic principle that my ignorance is equal to your expertise.
This low level of discourse is not new. Winterburn writes in 1885, “It seems ludicrous that a question of so much import, and of so purely a scientific nature, should be a matter of partisan clamor, but it ceases to be comic, and becomes painfully embarrassing, when men cannot discuss a question of vital importance to themselves and the race without being accused of sinister motives or of mental unsoundness. And yet this is just what has happened ever since the earliest years of Vaccination.”18
Being accused of mental unsoundness if you question vaccination goes on today. For example, a January issue of Canada’s Maclean’s magazine  proclaims on its cover, “How Vaccine Cranks Put Your Kids at Risk P.50.” The article inside is a wonderful example of Public Health propaganda parroted by an ignorant journalist and without a shred of evidence to be seen.
Winterburn, an American MD, Ph.D, is quite clear about the cause of this decline in the standards of scientific discourse. “Jenner began it in his efforts to suppress every fact which told against his theory, and his mantle has passed with the passing years to men of like aptitude for the suppression of disagreeable truths.”20
3. Mass Vaccination
Vaccinating people was the first time that physicians treated, and billed, healthy people. Dr. Hadwen said in his address in 1896, “I declare that when a person is ill, the doctor, is justified in doing all he possibly can for his patient; but when a person is well he has no right whatever to interfere with the normal functions of the human body as he does when he introduces disease, especially the disease of an inferior animal.” 21
Hadwen’s warning is just as applicable today but is it incorporated in the current medical ethos?
In 1850, Sir James Paget warned, “I think it may be laid down as an invariable rule of practice, that no one should be vaccinated except after the most rigid scrutiny. The carelessness of the Health Authorities in this particular is amazing. Vaccination is performed, with the easy nonchalance of the impossibility of doing harm, upon multitudes without the slightest inquiry as to their physical condition or antecedents; and this among the very class, where the greatest danger always lurks – the tenement house population. Vaccination to be effective, pervades and alters the entire constitution.”22
Today’s equivalent of the “tenement house population” is the poor of Africa who not only suffer from chronic malnutrition, diarrhea, tuberculosis and parasites but gifts of vaccines from the West, which have added to their burden by increased chronic disease. The WHO admits its mass vaccination programs are causing epidemics of diseases that are no less serious than the ones third world populations are being vaccinated against. It admits that worldwide, the 16 billion injections administered either for vaccines or drugs in the developing world each year cause an estimated 21,000,000 cases of Hepatitis B, 2,000,000 cases of Hepatitis C, and 260,000 cases of HIV.
Health Authorities are just as cavalier today. Once a vaccine schedule has been written it is observed like an edict from on high, particularly by nurses who are trained to follow orders. In many cases the notion that vaccines are harmful is simply absent. Not only that, the accepted ethical principle of informed consent does not apply to vaccination. Instead, coercion and guilt trips are laid on people, parents in particular, who refuse vaccination.
A recent example of administration of vaccines with “easy nonchalance” happened in Belgium in January, 2012. Nine-week old twins, born one month premature, were each given nine vaccines in one day. One of the twins had a cold on that day but apart from that, premature babies, with their immature organs, are extremely vulnerable. One week later, that twin died. Medical personnel denied a link to the vaccines.
4. Compulsory Vaccination
As the British government failed to recognize that smallpox vaccination did not prevent the disease, it passed a compulsory vaccination act in 1856. Between 1870 and 1872 one of the worst smallpox epidemics took place.
Dr. Hadwen, that wise physician, quoted earlier, said, “The very moment you take a medical prescription and you incorporate it in an Act of Parliament, and you enforce it against the wills and conscience of intelligent people by fines, distraints and imprisonments, it passes beyond the confines of a purely medical question – and becomes essentially a social and political one.”25
Ironically, today, the most mandates for vaccination are passed in the Land of the Free. For example, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, tried to mandate that Gardasil be given to all girls and boys in the state. Gardasil is a questionable vaccine that is given to adolescents purportedly to prevent cervical cancer in 30 years. Naturally, no one knows if that’s the case.
In September, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published figures of the side-effects of Gardasil, introduced in 2006. In those five years, there had been reports of 71 deaths. Other serious events, like paralysis, were not attributed to the vaccine by the CDC although they have been reported elsewhere.
Cancer is not a communicable disease. Yet a politician signed an order compelling the vaccine to be given to Texas youngsters. Why? Could it be that days after Perry signed the order, the drug maker gave him a hefty campaign donation?
Why does the medical profession allow politicians to order medical prescriptions? Are these politicians not practicing medicine without a licence?
George Santayana, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We are, indeed, repeating past errors in the practice of vaccination.
There are many lessons from the past to be learned but the ones addressed in this article are:
The belief that vaccination prevented smallpox is now in the realm of myth. Until Medicine, (a term that includes all health professions), opens its eyes, examines the data of the past and, recognizes the facts, it will continue to believe the legend that cowpox prevented smallpox. The data clearly show that vaccinated people contracted smallpox and that increasing numbers died from it.
In 1807, Mr. Birch warned medical men to open their eyes and recognize the “evil results” of vaccination. In 1810, Dr. Maclean told us that it is incumbent on vaccinators to come forward to disprove the evidence against vaccination. Today adverse events are rarely reported.
In 1901, Dr. Wilder said that after vaccine contamination, the former purity of the body can never be regained. Today we have a generation of children whose health has been ruined by vaccines.
In 1885, Winterburn said that it ceases to be comic when a scientific matter cannot be rationally discussed without an educated questioner being accused of mental unsoundness. He attributed the decline in rational discourse to Jenner who ignored or suppressed the fact that cowpox did not prevent smallpox. The “partisan clamor” of today is noisy and nasty and adds nothing to the debate.
We have accepted that Medicine has the right to interfere with the normal functioning of the human body despite the warning of Dr. Hadwen in 1896. Sir James Paget expressed dismay in 1850 that individuals were vaccinated without undergoing a thorough medical examination. Today we see children being lined up for jabs with no questions asked.
In 1896, Dr. Hadwen noted that mandated vaccination is a political issue, not a medical one. Today, we have politicians not only denying parents the right to decide for themselves but they make vaccination compulsory. No questions are asked by Medicine when politicians mandate a medical prescription. In other circumstances they would be accused of practicing medicine without a licence.
The idea that putting noxious substances under the skin will prevent disease is based on a false premise, the premise that cowpox prevented smallpox. Despite the huge volume of contrary evidence, this myth is still believed.
Dr. Maclean told us in 1810, “experience forbids us to expect fair and magnanimous proceedings and we may be assured that, under no circumstances, will vaccinators abandon so lucrative a practice, until the practice abandons them.” The growing numbers of parents with vaccine-damaged children are the only ones likely to alter the current state of affairs. As consumers they can exert their power and refuse the product and thus allow the practice to abandon the vaccine makers.
1.Hale, A.R. The Medical Voodoo, Gotham House, Inc. 1935, p.30
3. Winterburn, GW. The Value of Vaccination, Boericke, 1885. Republished by General Books, 2009. p.33
4. Jenner, E. Further Observations on the Variolae Vaccina, of Cowpox
5. Winterburn, GW. The Value of Vaccination, Boericke, 1885. Republished by General Books, 2009. p.32
6. McBean, The Poisoned Needle, Health Research, Pomeroy, WA, 1993
7. Hale, A.R. The Medical Voodoo, Gotham House, Inc. 1935, p.81
8. Winterburn, GW. The Value of Vaccination, Boericke, 1885. Republished by General Books, 2009. p.33
10. Winterburn, GW. The Value of Vaccination, Boericke, 1885. Republished by General Books, 2009. p.56
11. Miller, N. Immunization: Theory vs. Reality. New Atlantean Press, 1995
12. Journal of the American Medical Association, June 2, 1993,vol.269, No.21, p.2785
13. Butler H & P, Just a Little Prick. Robert Reisinger Memorial Trust, New Zealand, 2006
14. IAS. Unvaccinated children are healthier. Waves, Spring/Summer, 2002
15. Winterburn, GW. The Value of Vaccination, Boericke, 1885. Republished by General Books, 2009. p.58
16. Wilder, A. History of Medicine, New England Eclectic Publishing Company, 1901
18. Winterburn, GW. The Value of Vaccination, Boericke, 1885. Republished by General Books, 2009. p.3
19. Maclean’s, January 16, 2012
20. Winterburn, GW. The Value of Vaccination, Boericke, 1885. Republished by General Books, 2009. p.3
22. Paget, Sir James. Lectures on Inflammation, Wilson & Ogilvy, 1850
23. VRAN Newsletter, Winter 2005
27. Gillman, T. http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/08/perry-says-he-regrets-gardasil.html
28. Winterburn, GW. The Value of Vaccination, Boericke, 1885. Republished by General Books, 2009. p.33
About Dr. Jennifer Craig
In olden days Jennifer Craig was born in Yorkshire, England. She grew up in war time, trained as a nurse at Leeds Infirmary, emigrated to Canada, got married, had two children, went back to school, earned a Ph.D, became an academic and wrote academic twaddle. Enlightenment came when she moved to Nelson in 1994 and attended creative writing course. Her first book, Yes Sister, No Sister: a Leeds Nurse in the 1950s, a memoir about training as a nurse, was published in 2002 after 27 rejections. In 2010 it was re-published for the mass paperback market, moved straight into The Times bestseller list for 17 weeks and has sold 142,000 copies.
She has also published Jabs, Jenner & Juggernauts: a Look at Vaccination and has two finished novels waiting for perceptive publishers.
She lives in Nelson with a Bichon Frise and is fortunate to have two of her five grandchildren near by.