Anti-Vaccination Propaganda

By Richard Sheaff

Sometimes a single piece of ephemera can tell a complex story, and it also shows how things that happened 150 years ago are still relevant today.

This is an envelope postmarked 1884 showing Anti-Vaccination propaganda in the illustration on the front of the envelope. The image is of a Vaccination Officer presenting the Vaccination Act to a mother while her child is vaccinated by “death” in the form of a skeleton. The envelope is addressed to Dr. D. W. Crompton, the Consulting Surgeon at The General and Queen’s Hospitals in Birmingham, England. The envelope is a rare example and is in good condition.

In 1867 the Vaccination Act was passed in the United Kingdom. Within seven days of the birth of a child being registered, the registrar was to deliver a notice of vaccination; if the child was not presented to be vaccinated within three months or brought for inspection afterward, the parents or guardians were liable to a summary conviction and fine of 20s.

In 1871, another Act was passed appointing a Vaccination Officer, also authorizing a defendant to appear in a court of law by any member of his family or any other person authorized by him. This act also confirmed the principle of compulsion, which sparked hostility and opposition to the practice. (Wikipedia)