Anti-vaccinationists past and presentBMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7361.430 (Published 24 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:430
Box A: Anti-vaccination arguments, past and present
Vaccines cause idiopathic illness
1878 The National Anti-Compulsory Vaccination Reporter (Cheltenham, England)—Among the dangerous illnesses following the vaccine process are diphtheria, erysipelas, and not unfrequently abscesses. [To which we may add diarrhoæ, bronchitis, convulsions, &c. B Ed. ] On the whole it is a greater evil to humanity than small-pox itself!
2001 Anti-vaccination websites—The documented long term adverse effects of vaccines include chronic immunological and neurological disorders such as autism, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders, dyslexia, allergies, cancer, and other conditions, many of which barely existed 30 years ago before mass vaccination programs. (www.unc.edu/~aphillip/www/chf/myths/dvm27.htm)
Unholy alliance for profit
1878 — Medical despotism, founded in a wicked desire to rule over others … has given birth to the Vaccination Acts, which deny to parents the right to keep their own children in health …Friends, this medical despotism is a hard, materialistic, infidel thing … But it could have had no influence except through Parliament. It is by its unholy alliance with Parliament that it has been able to bring forth its dangerous brood.
2001—With an ACIP [Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices [US Government]] recommendation in hand, vaccine manufacturers use the government to say "you must buy my product and inject it into your body, even if it kills you or causes brain damage." (http://whale.to/v/belkin.html)
Vaccines as poisonous chemical cocktails
1878—The mind that cultivates small-pox by vaccination is now engaged in the suppression of small-pox by saturating the small-pox with carbolic acid, which is a virulent poison. This poison being absorbed by the absorbents enters the blood, and the natural secretions are tainted by it.
2001—The vaccines contain not only live viruses but also very significant amounts of highly toxic substances such as mercury, aluminum and formaldehyde. Could this be the reason for the upsurge in autism, ADHD, asthma, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus and other chronic disorders? (http://web.archive.org/web/20011019140710/http://www.house.gov/reform/hearings/healthcare/00.06.04/rimland.htm)
1878—Vaccine partisans are afraid of the "search after truth," and they fear the unveiling of error. Therefore do they close their eyes to facts and their ears to enquiry.
2001—The cover-up of immune system failure following vaccination is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s continuous denial and misinformation campaign about the dangers of cigarettes. (www.healthy.net/asp/templates/article.asp?PageType=Article&ID=539)
1878— The vaccination law not only insults every subject of the realm, but it insults every human being … We must war against all despotism, injustice and tyranny wherever they exist.
2001—The Orwellian spectacle of monopolistic and oligopolistic pharmaceutical manufacturers subverting government agencies to ram unsafe products down children’s veins is a violation of the basic principals of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. (http://whale.to/v/belkin.html)
Vaccine immunity is temporary
1878—If the duration of protection be limited, as we are now told, to somewhere between 3 and 7 years, how long can the repetition of the short-lived protection be expected to guard us?
2001—Immunity, after the disease, is lifelong, you can’t get it again. This [hepatitis A] vaccine (83% effective) requires multiple boosters throughout life. Vaccine manufacturers make a regular income on each person receiving the vaccine. This vaccine changes the epidemiology of the disease! (http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/mccfhc/hepAFACTS.htm)
Vaccines are ineffective
1878—The universal belief and hope of the early enthusiasts that the cow-pox would stamp out small-pox, is probably now held by no man of sense or discernment. Epidemics still continue to break out, and the sternest compulsory laws neither reduce their number nor their intensity.
2001—VACCINATION TRUTH #2: "Epidemiological studies have shown that vaccination has been unreliable as a means of preventing disease." (www.unc.edu/~aphillip/www/chf/myths/dvm12.htm)
Healthy lifestyle alternative
1878—Is not vaccination a substitute, necessarily futile, for faithful obedience to the sacred laws of health, whereby alone health can be conserved and disease prevented?
2001— … personal hygiene and diet stop diseases, folks, not injecting virulent free-floating genetic material into your veins with all kinds of poisonous cancerous carrying agents which is what vaccines are. (www.gval.com/loglia.htm)
Box B: Anti-vaccination movements past and present
Late 19th century—Anti-vaccinationists campaign against smallpox vaccination, citing vaccine safety issues, vaccine failures, infringement of personal liberty, and an unholy alliance between the medical establishment and the government to reap huge profits for the medical establishment at the expense of the public
Late 20th century—Anti-vaccinationists campaign against vaccination, citing vaccine safety issues, vaccine failures, infringement of personal liberty, and an unholy alliance between the medical establishment and the government to reap huge profits for the medical establishment at the expense of the public
19th century—Anti-vaccinationists distribute information in a wide variety of formats, including newspaper articles and letters, books, journals, and pamphlets to warn against the dangers of vaccination
20th century—Anti-vaccinationists distribute information in a wide variety of formats, including newspaper articles and letters, books, journals, and pamphlets to warn against the dangers of vaccination
19th century—Typical membership:1 4
1. Those who feel smallpox vaccination is ineffective
2. Persons who believed their relatives had suffered injury or death due to vaccination
3. Persons opposed to compulsory vaccination as an infringement of basic human rights
4. Proponents of alternative medical practice and theory, especially homoeopaths. Herbalists, chiropractors, and hydropaths 20th century—Typical membership:
1. Those who feel that some or all vaccinations are ineffective or unsafe
2. Persons who believe their relatives had suffered injury or death due to vaccination
3. Persons opposed to compulsory vaccination as an infringement of basic human rights
4. Proponents of alternative medical practice and theory, such as homoeopathy, herbal therapy, and chiropractic Government hearings
19th century—The Royal Commission of the British Government [1889-1896], investigating the grievances of the anti-vaccination movement, hears testimony on vaccine safety and effectiveness from a large number of anti-vaccinationists and pro-vaccinationists
20th century—The United States Congress [106th Congress, 1999-2000] House Committee on Government Reform, investigating the grievances of the anti-vaccination movement, hears testimony on vaccine safety and effectiveness from a large number of anti-vaccinationists and pro-vaccinationistsw1
Medical establishment response to anti-vaccinationists
19th century—Fearing the outbreak of new epidemics due to a drop in vaccine uptake (smallpox), medical authorities call for stronger efforts to increase vaccination rates
20th century— Fearing the outbreak of new epidemics due to a drop in vaccine uptake (pertussis, measles), medical authorities call for stronger efforts to increase vaccination rates
Effects of anti-vaccination ideas
19th century—Anti-vaccination activity leads to drop of smallpox vaccination rate in Stockholm, Sweden to just over 40% of the population by 1872 (uptake approached 90% elsewhere in Sweden). Epidemic in Stockholm in 1874 leads to rise in vaccine uptake and an end of major smallpox epidemics in Sweden7
20th century—Anti-vaccination activity, raising concerns over vaccine safety, leads to drop in pertussis vaccine uptake in United Kingdom from 81% in late 1960s to 31% by mid-1970s. Pertussis epidemics followed; rise in uptake to 93% ends epidemics w2
- United States House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform. http://web.archive.org/web/20011215074423/http://www.house.gov/reform/hearings/index.htm, www.house.gov/reform/cj/hearings/99.9.28/index.htm, and www.house.gov/reform/cj/hearings/99.5.18/index.htm (accessed 4 Dec 2001)
- Gangarosa EJ, Galazka AM, Wolfe CR, Phillips LM, Miller E, Chen RT. Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story. Lancet 1998;351:356-61.
- Editor's Choice Published: 24 August 2002; BMJ 325 doi:10.1136/bmj.325.7361.0/i
- This Week In The BMJ Published: 24 August 2002; BMJ 325 doi:10.1136/bmj.325.7361.0
- Letter Published: 04 July 2019; BMJ 366 doi:10.1136/bmj.l4471
- Head To Head Published: 17 February 2021; BMJ 372 doi:10.1136/bmj.n272
- Constitutional symptoms in a young personBMJ December 07, 2016, 355 i5781; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5781
- An adolescent with disabling abdominal painBMJ December 07, 2016, 355 i6101; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6101
- Andrew Wakefield calls Trump “on our side” over vaccines after meetingBMJ December 05, 2016, 355 i6545; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6545
- Doctors in Pakistan call for workers deported from the UAE to be screened for HIVBMJ December 05, 2016, 355 i6544; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6544
- Communicating risk to patients in the emergency departmentBMJ December 05, 2016, 355 i6437; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6437
- Correlates of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, hesitancy and refusal among employees of a safety net California county health system with an early and aggressive vaccination program: Results from a cross-sectional survey
- Considerations for causality assessment of neurological and neuropsychiatric complications of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines: from cerebral venous sinus thrombosis to functional neurological disorder
- Quand le sentiment antivaccin mene a la violence : emeute antivaccination de 1885 a Montreal
- Health Belief, Planned Behavior, or Psychological Antecedents: What predicts COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy better among the Bangladeshi Adults?
- Behavioural responses to Covid-19 health certification: A rapid review
- When antivaccine sentiment turned violent: the Montreal Vaccine Riot of 1885
- Should spreading anti-vaccine misinformation be criminalised?
- Compulsory vaccination: encourage trust before resorting to mandates
- A modeling of a Diphtheria epidemic in the refugees camps
- George Boole, saucy little Alice and an uneventful smallpox vaccination: one of the greatest stories never told
- Countering Vaccine Hesitancy
- Vaccine Attitudes, Concerns, and Information Sources Reported by Parents of Young Children: Results From the 2009 HealthStyles Survey
- Confidence in vaccines in developing countries: social, cultural, economic and political influences
- From compulsory to voluntary immunisation: Italy's National Vaccination Plan (2005-7) and the ethical and organisational challenges facing public health policy-makers across Europe
- Addressing Parents' Concerns About Childhood Immunizations: A Tutorial for Primary Care Providers
- Whither preventive medicine?