Edward Jenner established the principles of vaccination, proving that it was possible to prevent suffering and death from infectious diseases by artificial inoculation. His findings were made public on May 14, 1796. Rarely has there been a discovery so beneficial and rarely has such a discovery provoked such virulent opposition. It began immediately with a barrage of outrageous charges and continues today, largely on the Internet.

Although medical and scientific evidence demonstrates that the benefits of immunization far outweigh the rare adverse effects, opponents have claimed that vaccines do not work, that they are dangerous, that individuals should rely on personal hygiene instead, or that mandatory vaccinations violate individual rights or religious principles. If God had decreed that someone should die of smallpox, it would be a sin to thwart God’s will by vaccination.

One of the first anti-vaccinists was a Dr. Mosely who produced a pamphlet claiming no less than 500 cases of “beastly new diseases” produced by vaccination.  The pamphlet included engravings of an ox-faced boy and a girl covered by cow’s hair.

Another pamphleteer included a depiction of Dr. Jenner with a tail and hooves feeding a hideous monster with infants out of baskets. With quiet taste and understatement, he described vaccination as “A mighty and horrible monster, with the horns of a bull, the hind hoofs of a horse, the jaws of a kraken, the teeth and claws of a tiger, the tail of a cow – all the evils of Pandora’s box in his belly – plague, pestilence, leprosy, purple blotches, fetid ulcers, and filthy sores covering his body – and an atmosphere of accumulated disease, pain and death around him . . . (that) devours mankind – especially poor, helpless infants; not by scores only, or hundreds, or thousands, but by hundreds of thousands.”

That would make a good computer game.

A melancholy-looking man, he had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life’s gas-pipe with a lighted candle. ― P.G. Wodehouse

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