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St Pancras Institution (Vaccination)

Volume 236: debated on Thursday 6 March 1930

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asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that on 20th February over 400 pauper inmates of the St. Pancras workhouse were vaccinated without being asked for their consent; that the majority of these people believed that the reason for stripping to the waist was for examination purposes only and had no idea that it was for vaccination until they were actually vaccinated; that the few men who successfully resisted this attempt to vaccinate them have had their leave stopped; that no objection was raised to the men taking their discharge but only to their having leave; that Mr. L. L. Ross left the house on 22nd February and returned at 7 p.m. with a new order of admission and was told at the receiving ward that he must either agree to be vaccinated or get outside; that he refused to be vaccinated and demanded an order from the master in writing that vaccination was compulsory before he would agree to leave; that after an interview with the assistant master Boss was admitted 50 minutes after his arrival; that two men were refused admission on 21st February at 5.30 p.m. after presenting their orders; and whether he will point out to the St. Pancras workhouse authorities that they have no right to make vaccination a condition of admission to the workhouse?

On 20th February a male inmate was found to have been suffering from small-pox for three or four days and, since he had been in contact freely with other inmates, it was considered advisable to examine medically all the men in the institution. Opportunity was taken of advising the men to be vaccinated but it was made clear that any who objected were at liberty to refuse. A number of men in fact refused, but no leave has been stopped on this account. As regards Mr. Ross, the facts are substantially as stated. The delay in re-admitting him was due to a misunderstanding, which was rectified as soon as it was brought to the notice of the assistant master, and steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of the difficulty. There is no record of two men being refused admission on 21st February. The duty of a Poor Law authority to relieve destitution would not be affected by a refusal of the applicant to be vaccinated, but in certain circumstances it might be quite proper that relief should not be given in a particular institution.