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Anti vaxxers of the 1920s


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#1 Silver Girl

Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:32 PM

An elderly client (96 years old) recently showed me a document from her infancy.

It is a Statutory Declaration from 1924, and it cites the Health Act 1919 - Part VII - Vaccination - Seventh Schedule.

"I, the undersigned, hereby certify that [name], the parent of [child's name] whose birth was registered on [date] has within four months from the said child made a statutory declaration that the said [parent] conscientiously believes that vaccination would be prejudicial to the health of the said child and has within seven days from the making of such statutory declaration delivered the same to me.
Dated [date] [name] Registrar of Births and Deaths for the District of ...."

I was interested and dismayed to read that there were anti vaxxers 100 years ago.

Does anyone know more about the history of conscientious objectors from this era? I wonder what their reasons were back then.

#2 got my tinsel on

Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:45 PM

I would think it is not all that different to today.

Fear of harm.

Disbelieving the science.

Belief that their are other protections - faith/good nutrition etc

Not believing that childhood communicable diseases cause harm.


I'm actually more interested in your client.

Has she remained unvaccinated throughout her life?

#3 Silver Girl

Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:54 PM

I was interested in her too (did she make it to 96 with no vaccines?). Sadly I didn't have the opportunity to ask her to expand on this!

#4 Amica

Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:58 PM

I listed to a podcast about the history of vaccination. Lots of people were antivax even back in the small pox/cow pox days. There were protests and movements against it. It was more about distrust if the government than it was about science from what I could gather.

ETA - here it is.
https://www.abc.net....isaacs/11065022

Edited by Amica, 10 April 2020 - 10:01 PM.


#5 CallMeFeral

Posted 10 April 2020 - 10:00 PM

View PostAmica, on 10 April 2020 - 09:58 PM, said:

I listed to a podcast doco about this. Lots of people were antivax even back in the small pox/cow pox days. There were protests and movements against it. It was more about distrust if the government than it was about science from what I could gather.

Nothing's changed then...

#6 kadoodle

Posted 10 April 2020 - 10:23 PM

One of my grandfathers was vociferously antivax after his experience of being forcibly taken from his tribe and vaccinated by welfare officers as a boy. My grandmother took her kids in secret while he was at the pub.

#7 PuddingPlease

Posted 10 April 2020 - 10:46 PM

Is it possible they were Christian Scientists? A lot of people were around that time I think and refusing vaccination was actually a specific part of their faith.

The article below is pretty heavy reading but there is a lot of information there if anyone is interested.

https://www.theguard...thers-last-days

#8 gracie1978

Posted 10 April 2020 - 10:49 PM

My grandmother had a life long disability from polio, that she caught as a young adult.
She insisted on coming with us for our polio vaccinations when my brother and I were little, apparently she wouldn't be able to stop worrying about us till we'd had it.  I still remember it tasting quite good, although it might have just been how obviously happy it was making her.  (Aldyo my Mum was inclined to forget urgent but not important things like scheduled vaccinations...)

If covid can't convince antivaxxers that they're wrong, then I give up.  I'm at the point now where I can't even maintain friendships with antivaxxers, stupidity and selfishness aren't qualities I look for in friends.

#9 Quay11

Posted 10 April 2020 - 11:14 PM

I remember reading the biography of the Mitford Girls that their parents were against vaccination too. Educated, wealthy fruitcakes have been around for a while.

#10 got my tinsel on

Posted 10 April 2020 - 11:29 PM

View Postgracie1978, on 10 April 2020 - 10:49 PM, said:

I still remember it tasting quite good, although it might have just been how obviously happy it was making her.  

Money was very tight in my family and sweet things were very few and far between I can tell you.  No cordial, no biscuits, no cakes, no lollies.

I have to say that that little hot pink, glistening drop of polio vaccine on the white plastic spoon was probably the best thing I had tasted in a very long while.  53 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.

#11 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 11 April 2020 - 12:29 AM

Since the development of the first vaccines, there have been people who were anti-vaccination. I recommend the following books if you wanted to read about it.
https://en.m.wikiped...atest_Lifesaver
https://www.goodread...the-panic-virus

#12 IamzFeralz

Posted 11 April 2020 - 06:44 AM

My grandad was a 1920s anti vaxxer.  Not sure why but I suspect he was suspicious of the government because he also refused to send mum and her siblings out of London during WW2 to the countryside.  There was a mass evacuation of children out of the cities back then to be boarded with strangers.

Anyway as far as I know all his children vaccinated their own kids.

#13 WaitForMe

Posted 11 April 2020 - 09:11 AM

I have an anti-vax family member and it is just so frustrating seeing the articles they post on covid. Always looking for 'proof' its overhyped or an excuse for police state, ignoring the overwhelming evidence otherwise.

Look how great Sweden is, why doesn't California have many deaths, UK removed it from its High Consequence Infectious Disease list, etc.

#14 Romeo Void

Posted 11 April 2020 - 09:51 AM

View Postgot my tinsel on, on 10 April 2020 - 11:29 PM, said:

Money was very tight in my family and sweet things were very few and far between I can tell you.  No cordial, no biscuits, no cakes, no lollies.

I have to say that that little hot pink, glistening drop of polio vaccine on the white plastic spoon was probably the best thing I had tasted in a very long while.  53 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.
Your so right about the sweet thing. My mother still remembers coming to Australia as a 19 year old and her first taste of apricot jam (they served breakfast). To this day she gets all dreamy when she has some. This was around 1960.

#15 Soontobegran

Posted 11 April 2020 - 10:16 AM

Funny enough my dad (94) and I had this conversation recently after he had received is latest Flu Vaccine.

Vaccines were still new and not trusted in the early 20s.
There was some anti vaccine sentiment in the late 20s when the Diptheria vaccine killed multiple children in Queensland with a contaminated batch. I can understand how this would create a bunch of scepticism as there was a huge lack of education factor.
I am far more forgiving of the anti vaxxers of those days than I am of today's.....there is no excuse to be uniformed.

Dad recalls a time in his extended family in the 10s and 20s when 1 in every 30 babies born died from vaccine preventable disease :(

#16 annodam

Posted 11 April 2020 - 10:25 AM

My eldest went to School with a girl who was not vaccinated as her mum (more so than her dad) refused to vaccinate both her kids.
Anyhow, one time the girl admitted to the kids at School she was not vaccinated, to the horror of everyone else.
DD came home, told me about it & began asking questions.

Shortly after that, they moved house & she left the School.
In any event, the girls met up at Uni at the beginning of March this year & somehow got onto the topic of vaccinations.
Apparently, when she turned 18yo, she went & got herself vaccinated!

So all is not lost!

#17 born.a.girl

Posted 11 April 2020 - 10:30 AM

View PostWaitForMe, on 11 April 2020 - 09:11 AM, said:

I have an anti-vax family member and it is just so frustrating seeing the articles they post on covid. Always looking for 'proof' its overhyped or an excuse for police state, ignoring the overwhelming evidence otherwise.

Look how great Sweden is, why doesn't California have many deaths, UK removed it from its High Consequence Infectious Disease list, etc.


Cripes, anyone using Sweden as an example of how to do it, and avoid vaccines has rocks in their head.

They're a great example of being prepared to accept a significant level of deaths in return for leaving it up to the individual to 'do the right thing', with suggestions, rather than directives.  

Half our population and they're rapidly heading towards 1,000 dead. Their testing is well under half of ours, so that tells its own story.




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