HC Deb 22 February 1926 vol 192 cc39-40

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the outbreak of small-pox in the years 1901–02 coincides with an increase in the number of vaccinations performed in consequence of the passing of the Vaccination Act, 1898; and whether he will state the number of cases of smallpox notified in the years 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, and 1904, and the number of infants vaccinated out of every hundred born in each of those years?


It is the fact that the total numbers of vaccinations and revaccinations performed during the years 1901–12 at the cost of the rates was considerably in excess of the numbers in previous years. But as the primary object of the Vaccination Act, 1898, was to exempt from penalties parents who obtained certificates of conscientious objection to vaccination, this increase cannot, in my right hon. Friend's opinion, be attributed to the passing of that Act, but rather to the fact that when smallpox is prevalent, as in 1901–02, it is usually found that large numbers of persons seek the protection afforded by vaccination. As regards the last part of the question, figures are not available showing the number of cases of small-pox notified during the years in question, but I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement giving the percentage of vaccinations to births in each of those years.

Following is the statement:

Percentage of Vaccinations to Births.
Year. Percentage.
1897 62.4
1898 61.0
1899 66.4
1900 68.7
1901 71.4
1902 74.8
1903 75.4
1904 75.3

99. Commander WILLIAMS

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to inform the public of the efficiency of vaccination against smallpox, particularly in those areas where there is any sign of this disease?


It is the duty of the local authorities of areas in which any case of small-pox occurs to urge the importance of vaccination and the efficiency of this method of protection against small-pox, and it is the usual practice of the local authorities to take these steps.

Commander WILLIAMS

May I inquire whether the hon. Gentleman will let the figures regarding the Durham District, which were given the other day, be very widely known among the local authorities?


I think my hon. Friend had better put down a question.


May I ask whether it is not a fact that some medical men in the two districts in the North, where it is suggested small-pox is prevalent, disagree entirely, and think that it is not small-pox at all?


I think the hon. Gentleman had better put that question down. As the hon. Member knows, in a particular area, where there was an industrial dispute, the outbreak of small-pox was not so severe as in adjoining areas.