Intended for healthcare professionals

Fillers One hundred years ago

Lord Balfour and vaccination

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 11 January 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:76

THE antivaccination party has never had much success in Scotland, and this week it has met with a very decided rebuff from Lord Balfour, Secretary of State for Scotland. The Antivaccination League had asked for an interview with him in the hopes of obtaining some support in its effort to obtain for Scotland the “benefits” of the English Act granting exemption from prosecution to “the conscientious objector.” Their request was granted, but they gained nothing whatever by it. In reply to the deputation which represented the League, Lord Balfour said that the benefits of vaccination seemed to him to be proved up to the hilt, and that whatever damage, if any, it might cause in individual cases was far outweighed by its general public utility. Such risks as might be alleged to exist were a constantly diminishing quantity, owing to the improvements that were introduced into the processes of vaccination. The proved evils were so infinitesimal as compared with the great protection afforded by it, that he considered the State was not only entitled, but morally bound, to do everything in its power to ensure efficient performance of vaccination. (BMJ 1903;i:923)