The Old Story
People who have failed to get vaccinated are still keeping the Municipal Hospital supplied with patients and keeping the borough’s expense account at a high figure.
These are the people who have made the hospital for contagious diseases necessary.
Some of the unbelievers in the virtue of the vaccine theory have paid a high price for their skepticism, but for all tat there are still some disciples of the anti-vaccination cult in the borough. It is the old story – the people of Sodom did not believe in the fire story until they had been caught in the blaze.
From the Miners’ Journal of Pottsville, February 11, 1903.
The editors were referring to opposition to smallpox vaccination among the population of Pottsville amid a winter where outbreaks in and around the city necessitated the opening of an emergency hospital to treat all the cases. This came amid a wave of anti-vaccination beliefs that cropped up around the turn of the 20th century, mostly in response to governments passing compulsory vaccination statutes that, despite the rage they provoked among a small portion of the public, saved innumerable lives.
Featured Image: A cartoon showing anti-vaccination proponents leading their followers to their deaths, 1924 (Historical Medical Library/College of Physicians of Philadelphia)
Ahh, but you may say: “Vaccines today are different than in the past.” But here’s something to note, something you won’t see among anti-vaccine proponents today: their arguments are the same as those spouted more than a century ago by those opposed to smallpox vaccination.
You may also say, “Jake, you aren’t a doctor.” And you’d be right. But I worked alongside medical professionals and medical historians at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine for nearly a decade, spending countless hours with archival records and researching 19th century military vaccination programs.