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MEDICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL INTELLIGENCE.
REPORT OF THE NATIONAL VACCINE ESTABLISHMENT
OF GREAT BRITAIN.
To the right honourable Lord Viscount Sidmouth, principal secretary of state for the home department, &c. National Vaccine Establishment, Leicester-square,
June 19, 1815. My LORD, The Board of the National Vaccine Establishment has the honour to report to your lordship, that a greater number of individuals has been vaccinated in the course of last year
than the preceding: that several thousand more charges of vaccine lymyh* have been distributed to the public; whence the destructive ravages of small pox have been diminished.
It appears from the bills of mortality of London, that the deaths occasioned by small pox have decreased in a larger proportion than one-fourth; six hundred and thirty-eight having fallen victims to that malady during the last year, eight hundred and ninety-eight during the former. Large indeed is this melancholy catalogue, which is attributable to the dissemination of variolous matter by a few interested individuals, who, from sordid motives, continue the practice of inoculating with small pox virus, and diffusing this fatal disease through the metropolis.
With the view of augmenting the benefits of this establish_ ment, the board has lately appointed a class of Extraordinary Vaccinators, in addition to the stationary surgeons of respectability, who, having voluntarily stepped forward to contribute their assistance gratuitously, aompose this class, from which it is intended hereafter to elect the stationary vaccinators.
Another class, denominated Corresponding Vaccinators, has also been established, from which a very material extension of the benefits to be derived from the Vaccine Institution
* At the different stations 4,686 persons have been vaccinated, and 32,190 charges of lymph have been distributed. VOL. VI.
is confidently expected. Each person will, in his own neighbourhood, be a point, from which the practice will continually diverge, and through whom any communication of importance may at once be made to this board.
The Stationary and Extraordinary Vaccinators must reside in London or in the suburbs; but the Corresponding may live at any distance, or in any part of the world.
The official communications from the Medical Colleges of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dublin, evincing their confidence in vaccination, and the annihilation of small pox in the settlements of the Cape of Good Hope and of Ceylon, by its introduction, as formerly reported, have been insufficient to convince some individuals of the security against the infection of small pox; but it is to be hoped that the strong additional facts, hereafter stated, will produce the fullest conviction of its bene. fits in their minds.
From the official documents transmitted by the right honourable the secretary of state for foreign affairs, to this board, respecting the effects of vaccination in the islands of Mauri. tius and Bourbon, it appears, that the inhabitants have been secured against the visitation of one of the severest scourges incident to the human race, as the sequel shows. In the year 1728, the small pox swept off pearly one half of the population; in 1756, about one-fourth; in 1771 and 1772, it occasioned a comparatively less, though very great mortality; and in 1792, it destroyed one-third; and of those who survived the disease, one-third lingered out a short and miserable existence, afflicted with dropsy, marasmus, consumption, &c. It is worthy of remark, that in three times out of four, the disease was introduced by slave ships. Let the contrast now be drawn between the introduction of variolous infection and vaccine inoculation.
In 1802 vaccination was introduced from the British possessions in India, but its general use was prevented by the prejudices of the people, and the lymph, after a short time, could not be procured. In 1805, it was re-introduced, and the French government seeing the necessity of regulations, framed some accordingly; but vaccination was only partially adopted; for it did not exist in many parts of the island when the British took
possession of it. In 1811, the small pox re-appeared in the island, and about 220 persons became infected, of whom 30 died. The alarm excited by the progress of this disease prompted his excellency governor Farquhar to issue his mandate, compelling all the inhabitants to be immediately vaccinated, which energetic measure at once arrested the progress of small pox.
In 1813, an opportunity was offered of putting to the test the security of vaccination, by a slave (who came from the island of Madagascar, and was afflicted with the confluent form of small pox) having been landed and received into the hospital; many slaves and other vaccinated persons were exposed to the infection, but no one became the subject of the disease.
From the introduction of vaccination in 1802, to the 28th February 1814, it is computed that 200,000 persons have been vaccinated; and the medical practitioners unanimously declare, that no instance has occurred of small pox being contracted after regular vaccination.
In the island of Bourbon the calamitous effects of variolous disease, and the beneficial consequences of vaccination, though detailed in a more abridged form, as forcibly corroborate the utility of vaccine inoculation, from its having banished the small pox from that settlement.
The National Vaccine Board cannot omit to direct your lordship's attention to the meritorious conduct and zealous excrtions of private individuals, not of the medical profession, who have not only vaccinated many hundreds every year, but have studiously maintained a supply of lymph in their districts for the perpetual renewal of vaccination. It has particularly noticed the ardent zeal of Mr. Ellis, of Rhos-farm, who has vaccinated several thousands in North Wales, without a single failure; and also of the late Rev. Mr. Holt, and the Rev. Mr. Finch, two of the earliest friends to the practice; residing, the one in Buckinghamshire, the other in a populous part of Lancashire, and who met with undeviating success; a success which puts to shame the negligent practice of some belonging to the medical profession; for, strange as it may appear, it is not the less true, that there are many places in the
united kingdom, where, though vaccination is professed, it is, in effect, never fairly practised. Lymph, indeed, has been procured from the national establishment, but it would seem only for present, and not prospective purposes; as no pains have been taken to preserve it by a succession of cases; and that too, where the population in many of the districts supplied has exceeded some thousands, and even in some of these where county hospitals are established.
In many instances the board has had reason to lament, that throughout entire districts the lymph has been lost altogether; and when thus suffered to be lost, there must surely be just grounds of suspicion, that interested motives have actuated individuals to throw serious impediments in the way of the general adoption of vaccination.
In confirmation of this conclusion, the board adds the plain and unaffected narrative of a person who, humbly situated in life, has, in the true spirit of philanthropy, been the instrument of dispensing the benefits of vaccination to an extensive neighbourhood, and of preserving a regular supply of lymph, with which many medical practitioners have been liberally furnished.
Mr. W. Jeffrey, of Cambus-baron, near Stirling, after reciting the history of his practice, which, from the purest motives of benevolence he commenced under circumstances not neces. sary to be detailed, thus proceeds in his communication to the board:—“Vaccine inoculation has acquired such a character for ten miles round where I dwell, that the natural small pox is not heard of. In this village there is not one child which has not been vaccinated, (excepting in two families), so universal has the practice become; and it is remarked by the inhabitants of the village, that the children are more numerous owing to their being vaccinated; and among the children that I have vaccinated, I challenge all the country round to produce any instance in which the inoculation failed to preserve them from variolous contagion, notwithstanding their being exposed to lying in bed, eating, and drinking with those infected with the small pox. I am much surprised when I hear of such backwardness in and about London to the performance of such a salutary benefit to the human race. If any one should speak against it in any village, or in the large parish of St. Ninians, he would expose himself to the contempt of all the people.”
The National Vaccine Board has it in contemplation to enrol the names of such steady and exemplary friends, under the denomination of Honorary Vaccinators, as they cannot with propriety be included in the other orders; and it hopes to receive from this class a continuance of their valuable communications. Though it cannot be supposed that any stimulus is required to incite the active labours of such highly commendable persons, yet the board cannot in justice silently pass over such zeal, without giving some signal mark of its approbation.
Notwithstanding the accumulated and accumulating proofs of the utility of vaccination, there is reason to apprehend that variolous inoculation will still be persisted in, whereby the baneful effects of small pox must be continually propagated.
The board has with regret to observe, that although the punishment of three months' imprisonment was awarded against Sophia Vantandillo, for carrying her child, whilst under the influence of small pox, through the public streets (which infected many others, eight of whom died), the unwary and uninformed are still epticed by the hand-bills of shameless empirics, to submit their children to variolous inoculation. It is, however, yet to be hoped, that the above sentence so recently passed by the Court of King's Bench, which the Board of the Vaccine Establishment has taken every method of promulgating, may produce considerable benefit. But if inoculation of small pox be permitted, the promiscuous intercourse of the infected with society at large ought to be as speedily as possible prevented, and a receptacle* established, to which the diseased should be immediately removed; for the narrow alleys and confined courts in which most of the poor reside must tend to concentrate contagion, to render it extremely virulent, and eventually to disseminate this disease under its most malign it form.
The board selected Sophia Vantandillo as a proper example,
• The Small Pox Hospital has been lately purchased, for the use of the sick poor afflicted with fevers.