Dr. C. Killick Millard, on February 4th, concluded a course of three lectures on the vaccination question in the light of modern experience by the Chadwick trustees.
In his first lecture Dr. Millard said that when he first went tp Leicester his views on the subject were strictly orthodox, but in consequence of his experience of small-pox in Leicester, he had been obliged to modify those views considerably. He attributed the bitterness felt by the opponents of vaccination to the compulsory clauses of the Vaccination Acts. There was also the repulsion which many persons felt to the introduction of a disease into a healthy child for the sake of preventing another disease, following propositions as those to which he had been brought by his own observations:
- I believe absolutely in vaccination, though with certain important reservations, and I differ in to from the anti-vaccinist when he asserts that vaccination is a “myth” and a “delusion.” I agree entirely with the provaccinist that recent vaccination confers on the individual protection against small-pox, which, for practical purposes, is complete, though unfortunately only temporary.
- Vaccination, repeated as often as necessary, is invaluable for protecting those who for any reason are specially exposed to the infection of small-pox – for example, doctors and nurses.
- It is also of very great value for protecting persons after actual exposure to infection – that is small-pox “contacts.”
- I agree entirely with the provaccinist that vaccination has a remarkable power of modifying and mitigating small-pox for many years after its power to protect against attack has worm out. Moreover, the protection conferred by vaccination can be renewed by revaccination.
- On the other hand, I agree with the antivaccinist in doubting the value to the community at the present day of infantile vaccination as provided by law. I think that an altogether exaggerated view has been taken as to the effect of such vaccination in preventing the spread of small-pox, which is the real problem before us.
- I agree with the antivaccinist that sanitation notification, isolation, surveillance of contacts, and other modern measures which are becoming generally adopted, have played a more important part in the abolition of small-pox from this country during the past thirty years than infantile vaccination.
- I think the antivaccinist is right when he contends that the drawbacks to infantile vaccination and the injuries to health caused by it are not sufficiently recognized by the medical profession, who, in their sincere anxiety to defend vaccination have been inclined to minimize these drawbacks.
- On the other hand, I quite admit that the antivaccinist, in his hostility to vaccination, has frequently run into the opposite extreme and grossly exaggerated these drawbacks, whilst endeavoring to prejudice the question of vaccination by making wild assertions about the nature and origin of vaccine lymph etc.
- There is distinct evidence that small-pox is leaving this country in spite of the increasing neglect of vaccination, and it seems probable that such neglect of vaccinatjion will continue to increase until the great majority of the population has become unvaccinated. I am inclined to believe that when this happens the problem of small-pox prevention will very possibly be simplified and made more easy rather than more difficult.
- The great difficulty in controlling the spread of small-pox at the present day is the occurrence of very mild unrecognized cases of the disease which spread infection broadcast before any precautions can be taken. It is an important fact, the significance of which does not appear to be sufficiently appreciated, that these mild unrecognized cases which do so much mischief, and which go so for to thwart our efforts to control the spread of the disease, occur almost entirely amongst vaccinated persons and because they were so vaccinated. In other words, it would seem that infantile vaccination, by its very success in mitigating small-pox after its power to protect from attack has worn out, may have a distinct tendency to encourage the spread of the disease. It is possible that this tendency more than neutralizes any benefit which the community derives from the fact that vaccination largely protects the child population from small-pox.