HC Deb 01 May 1888 vol 325 cc1037-8
MR. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether his attention has been called to the inquests held on the 5th of April and the 23rd of April on two babies who died from being vaccinated when six days and five days old respectively; whether, in the first case, the child was born in the Greenwich Union Infirmary, and was vaccinated in five places against the wish of its mother; whether the Coroner said there had been great want of discretion on someone's part; whether the jury desired the Coroner to make representations to the authorities, with a view to the prevention of similar cases in future; whether, in the second case, the child was born at Queen Charlotte's Hospital, and whether it is accurate, as stated at the inquest, that it is the common practice there to vaccinate babies within five days of their birth; whether, in this case, the mother was not consulted as to the time of the operation; whether the Coroner was accurate in stating— That by the sanction of the Local Government Board it is the constant practice in workhouse infirmaries to vaccinate infants three or four days old; and, whether he will do his utmost to put a stop to this practice, and will issue a recommendation to all Boards of Guardians that they should defer vaccination till a child is at least six months old?

THE PRESIDENT (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)

My attention has been drawn to the two inquests referred to by the hon. Member. As regards the case of the child born in the Greenwich Infirmary, the verdict of the jury at the Coroner's inquest was not that the child died from being vaccinated when six days old, as stated in the Question, but from being accidentally suffocated while at the mother's breast. The child was vaccinated in five places, and there was no statement at the inquest that the mother objected to this vaccination. The child left the infirmary 13 days after the vaccination; and, according to the statement of the medical officer of the Guardians, was perfectly healthy at the time of the vaccination and at the time of leaving the infirmary. A postmortem examination, of which evidence was given at the inquest, showed, however, that the child had one lung in a state of collapse, probably from the time of birth, and had other congenital malformations; and the jury, having this evidence before them, added to their verdict a rider to the effect that the child was, in their opinion, in an exceptionally delicate state of health, and that its vaccination was much to be regretted. As I have already stated, however, the cause of death was accidental suffocation. As regards the case of the child born at Queen Charlotte's Hospital, it was vaccinated when five days old, as is the practice in that Hospital, unless the parent objects. In this case the mother was aware of the rule, and did not object. The child, when discharged from the Hospital, was certified by the physician to be in good health. The child died when just over a month old. The Coroner states that death was not due to the vaccination, but to injury to the vaccination sores, followed by inflammation, which was probably of an erysipelatous character. It is to be borne in mind that if children born in a workhouse are not vaccinated before their discharge, they commonly escape vaccination altogether; and the Local Government Board are advised that there is no medical reason against such early vaccination in the case of healthy children. The Vaccination Act of 1867 requires vaccination within three months after birth.