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Volume 237: debated on Thursday 3 April 1930

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asked the Minister of Health if he will issue a memorandum to public medical officials deprecating the vaccination of persons who have been in contact with smallpox, seeing that in cases where the smallpox has already been contracted the operation can only add to the patient's troubles and in those cases where it has not been already contracted after such exposure the imposition of the operation is ipso facto unnecessary?

No, Sir. I do not think that I should be justified in adopting the course suggested. I am advised that vaccination, if performed sufficiently soon after exposure to smallpox infection, usually prevents an attack of the disease. If vaccination is performed too late to prevent the disease being contracted it may, nevertheless, modify the severity of the attack.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that doctors in the service of the Metropolitan Asylums Board vaccinate children sent to the shelters as suspected cases of small-pox; that this is done without any reference to the wishes of the parents, or notice taken of the fact that many of these children have been legally exempted from vaccination; and whether he will issue instructions that no child taken to the hospitals or shelters of local authorities shall be vaccinated without the consent of its parents?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I am informed that the vaccination is performed solely in the interests of the children, who whilst under observation are exposed to small-pox infection at the shelters, in order that they may be protected against an attack of that disease if they have not already contracted it. I am advised that it would not be desirable, in view of the risks involved, to make any exception to this practice, and I have no authority to issue such instructions as are suggested.