THE objectors to smallpox vaccinations in south Essex around 1900 had a point.

The first vaccinations available against smallpox became available a hundred years before that and involved the injection of live material from young cattle which had survived cowpox and had supposedly become immune.

When successful this did give humans protection from a disabling and often fatal disease.

The technique obviously improved over the years but the smallpox inoculation remained one of the more risky ones right up until recent times, and who would want it now?

The Compulsory Vaccination Act of 1853 was very controversial at the time and remained so until its repeal in 1948.

Parents did not wish to put their children at risk – given the possibility of a fatal outcome of having the vaccine it is a rational decision to take a chance on not getting the disease.

Pfizer’s discovery of a possible Covid vaccine along with the imminent arrival of others is very encouraging news but as yet we do not know enough about them.

We need to know about side effects, the length of immunity and whether the vaccinated persons can still spread infection.

As of now I think that I would accept a vaccination if and when I am offered one, but there should be no criticism of any that refuse.


Herongate, Shoeburyness


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