The anti-vaccination movement that gripped Victorian England

BBC News

Greig Watson

The distrust of doctors and government that feeds the anti-vaccination movement might be seen as a modern phenomenon, but the roots of today’s activism were put down well over a century ago.

In the late 19th Century, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in opposition to compulsory smallpox vaccinations. There were arrests, fines and people were even sent to jail.

Banners were brandished demanding “Repeal the Vaccination Acts, the curse of our nation” and vowing “Better a felon’s cell than a poisoned babe”. Copies of hated laws were burned in the streets and the effigy was lynched of the humble country doctor who was seen as to blame for the smallpox prevention programme. . . [Full text]

A proposal to reduce vaccine exemptions while respecting rights of conscience

Medical Xpress / The Conversation

Stacie Kershner, Daniel Salmon, Hillel Y. Levin and Timothy D. Lytton

Vaccine resistance is one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019, according to the World Health Organization. Here in the U.S., New York City is currently experiencing its worst outbreak of measles in decades, sickening scores of children in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.

Other clustered outbreaks of deadly and highly contagious, but vaccine-preventable, diseases are becoming frustratingly routine around the country. These outbreaks are caused by some parents’ decision to claim religious and philosophical exemptions to state mandates that children must be vaccinated in order to attend school.

In response, prominent health organizations and advocacy groups have called on state legislatures to eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions. . . .

. . . In a collaboration among legal scholars and public health experts, we have developed an alternative approach: a model law that aims to reduce the number of parents who decline to vaccinate their children while respecting freedom of conscience. . . [Full text]

3 ethical reasons for vaccinating your children

The Conversation

Joel Michael Reynolds

Across the country, billboards are popping up suggesting that vaccines can kill children, when the science behind vaccination is crystal clear – vaccinations are extremely safe.

Researchers who study the beliefs of anti-vaxxers have found many different reasons, not just religious or political, as to why some parents refuse to get their children vaccinated.

As a bioethicist who investigates how societal values impact medicine, I consider such decisions to be downright indefensible. And here are three reasons why. . . [Full text]

Vaccine refusal endangers everyone, not just the unvaccinated

Science Blogs: Respectful Insolence

Dr. David M. Gorski*

One of the more frequent claims of antivaccine activists often comes in the form of a  question, usually something like, “If your child is vaccinated, why are you worried about my children? They don’t pose any danger to you.” Of course, the premise behind that question is, ironically, one that conflicts with the belief that vaccines are ineffective: that vaccines are so effective that there’s no reason for the parents of a vaccinated child to be concerned if that child comes in contact with another child with a vaccine-preventable disease. . . [Full text]

Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Foetuses

Pontifical Academy for Life; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


Il Presidente

Vatican City,
June 9 2005

Mrs Debra L.Vinnedge
Executive Director, Children of God for Life
943 Deville Drive East
Largo, Florida
Stati Uniti

Dear Mrs Debra L.Vinnedge,

On June 4, 2003, you wrote to His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, with a copy of this letter forwarded to me, asking to the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith a clarification about the liceity of vaccinating children with vaccines prepared using cell lines derived from aborted human fetuses.  Your question regarded in particular the right of the parents of these children to oppose such a vaccination when made at school, mandated by law. As there were no formal guidelines by the magisterium concerning that topic, you said that catholic parents were often challenged by State Courts, Health Officials and School Administrators when they filled religious exemptions for their children to this type of vaccination

This Pontifical Academy for Life, carrying out the commission entrusted to us by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, in answer to your request, has proceeded to a careful examination of the question of these “tainted” vaccines, and has produced as a result a study (in Italian) that has been realized with the help of a group of experts. This study has been approved as such by the Congregation and we send you, there enclosed, an English translation of a synthesis of this study. This synthesis can be brought to the knowledge of the interested officials and organisms.

A documented paper on the topic will be published in the journal “Medicina e Morale”, edited by the Centra di Bioetica della Universita Cattolica in Rome.

The study, its synthesis, and the translation of this material took some time. We apologize for the delay.

With my best regards,

Sincerely yours,

 00193 Roma – Via della Conciliazione, 1 – Tel. 06 698.82423 – 06 698.81693 – Fax 06 698.82014

See Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Foetuses 

Anti-vaccination group ‘encouraging parents to join fake church’ for religious loophole

An anti-vaccination group is reportedly encouraging parents to sign up to a fake church so they can bypass immunisation requirements for childcare.

Under a NSW government’s 2013 law and the Victorian government’s proposed law due to start next year, children who are not fully immunized cannot enroll in childcare.

But parents can get around these laws if they declare a conscientious objection on a Medicare form and have it signed by a GP, who first counsels them about the risks and benefits of immunisation, Fairfax Media reports. . . [Full text]


Doctor group declines care to unvaccinated

Toledo office won’t accept, treat unprotected children

Toledo Blade

7 June, 2014

Marlene Harris-Taylor

A Toledo pediatrician’s office has decided it will no longer accept or treat children whose parents object to them receiving childhood immunizations, a move that comes amid rising concern from the medical community that unvaccinated children are fueling the resurgence of childhood diseases, such as measles, nationally and in Ohio.

Franklin Park Pediatrics sent a letter last week to patients that said they have a year to comply with the new policy. “If you cannot or will not fully vaccinate your child/​children by June 1, 2015, please understand that you will choose to leave our practice (seek medical care elsewhere.)”

“Due to recent outbreaks of measles, mumps, and whooping cough, and a recent influx of unvaccinated children, we have decided to keep our office a safe environment,” said Dr. John McBride, who is one of six physicians in the Franklin Park Pediatrics group, which treats more than 14,000 patients. . . [Full text]

Refusals of vaccinations in Australia

A controversy has developed in Queensland, Australia, over the refusal of some parents to have their children vaccinated.  Although media reports refer to “conscientious objection,” it appears that the term is being applied much more broadly to encompass those who refuse vaccinations because they are concerned about side effects or doubtful about their efficacy.  Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg told a reporter, “I think the whole issue of conscientious objection has been abused and misused and really we are dealing here with people who are vaccine refusers.” []

Refusing to treat children whose parents won’t comply with vaccination regimes

An editorial in the Toronto Star notes that some physicians are refusing to continue with families when parents refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated.  In most cases the refusals are prompted by distrust of conventional medicine and fear of side effects.  The editorial supports those who recommend that physicians keep objecting families in their practices so that children can continue to get good medical care and to provide the opportunity to convince unwilling parents to consent to vaccination. [Toronto Star]

Paediatricians refusing families for not vaccinating children

There appears to be an increase in the number of parents in the United States refusing vaccinations for their children, and a significant number of paediatricians are responding by refusing to continue with the families in their practices.  More than 30% of Connecticut paediatricians responding to a survey reported that they had asked families to leave their practices because of a refusal to immunize.  The study did not attempt to ascertain the reason for this.

Modern Medicine; Leib S, Liberatos P, Edwards K.  Pediatricians’ experience with and response to parental vaccine safety concerns and vaccine refusals: a survey of Connecticut pediatricians. Public Health Rep. 2011 Jul-Aug;126 Suppl 2:13-23