The Conflict Between Medical Science, Public Health, and the Antivaccination Movement in Nineteenth Century England


  • Abena Adaboh


“The Conflict between Medical Science, Public Health and the Antivaccination Movement in Nineteenth Century England” examines the evolution of medical opposition to vaccination from the discovery of the vaccine in the late 18th century until the end of the 19th century. It analyzes how the nature of the vaccine debate was influenced by laws that mandated the vaccination of infants. This paper argues that many of the anti-vaccine claims were engendered by the lack of understanding of disease causality and immunity and a misinterpretation of statistical data. Some antivaccinationists arguments were groundless while others were legitimate concerns based on sound observations. It was only after several improvements to the system of vaccination and the development of the germ theory that anti-vaccine claims could be completely refuted.