HC Deb 01 March 1881 vol 258 cc1946-7

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether it be true that a practice of vaccinating infants as early as the first week after birth, and even earlier, has been adopted in some workhouses; if it be done under the sanction of the Local Government Board; and, is the free consent of the mother in these cases first obtained?


Sir, it is quite true that a practice of vaccinating children in the first week after birth has been adopted in some workhouses, and in some individual cases I have ascertained that the operation has been performed earlier than the completion of the first half of the week; but in the Circular recently issued by the Local Government Board it was pointed out that the children might, as a rule, be vaccinated when six days old, so that the result could be ascertained on the 13th day, and before the mothers leave the workhouse, which is often at a very early period. If these children were not vaccinated in the workhouse, they would probably not be vaccinated at all. No complaints have reached mo with regard to these early vaccinations. In many cases the free consent of the mothers to the vaccination of the children has been specifically obtained. In others, where it has not been so asked for, acquiescence, in the absence of objection, has been assumed; but I am not aware of any instance where a child has been vaccinated after the refusal of the mother.


asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether he is aware that, owing to the increase of small-pox in Western London, many inhabitants are being re-vaccinated; and, whether, having regard to the fact that no lymph can be obtained from secondary vaccination and that great difficulty exists in obtaining lymph, he is prepared forthwith to provide a proper supply of calf vaccine or humanized lymph for all duly qualified persons applying for the same?


Sir, there is no doubt that, owing to the increase of small-pox in Western London, many persona are being re-vaccinated. It is very desirable that persons should be re-vaccinated; but it would have been much better if, instead of waiting for an epidemic of this kind, as has been done in too many instances, they had been re-vaccinated at the age at which the Board recommend it to be done. With regard to the supply of lymph, it must be borne in mind that the national vaccine establishments only undertake to supply stock, and do not supply lymph for the vaccination of every individual. I do not find, however, that any registered practitioner who has applied for lymph has yet been refused. Arrangements are in progress for providing a supply of calf vaccine; but considerable difficulties have been experienced in organizing the necessary establishment. I trust, however, that these difficulties will shortly be surmounted.