On the Frontiers of Medicine
Jan. 31, 1907
Showing once again that Los Angeles is out of touch with Sacramento, local health officials are fighting an education bill that would lift mandatory smallpox vaccinations for schoolchildren.
Vaccinations were opposed for several reasons in the Legislature. Assemblyman Sackett objected to placing the burden of enforcement on schools. Assemblyman Percival, a Christian Scientist, apparently objected to the measure on religious grounds. Other opponents said the only reason health officials supported the shots is to protect their jobs.
“People do not realize what the repeal of the compulsory vaccination law would mean,” says health officer Dr. Powers. “If that law were not in force here we should need five health officers in place of one.”
“Those who question the efficacy of vaccination would do well to look over the records of the local health office and compare the amount of contagious disease 15 years ago with what exists today,” Powers says. “Our population is five times as great as it was then but there has been no increase in smallpox. To repeal the compulsory vaccination law means to invite a scourge of smallpox to come north from below the Mexican border and sweep the state.”
The Times notes that Powers and his aides are watching trains and hotels for visitors from Chicago, which has been suffering epidemics of diphtheria and scarlet fever. The anti-vaccination bill was defeated in February 1907.
Read more about smallpox in Los Angeles here.
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