London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Clerkenwell 1863

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Clerkenwell, St James & St John]

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out, not only would the deaths be diminished, but the disease
would be reduced to an extremely mild form, or would even
vanish entirely from among us. In fact, the importance of vaccination
is now so generally admitted, and its practice so ordinarily
adopted among the more well-to-do classes, that the main question
is, how the unvaccinated shall be found out. And I may remark,
that whenever I have called at the houses where deaths from
Small Pox have occurred, as is my custom, to ascertain why the
deceased had not been vaccinated, and if there were others in the
house who had not been vaccinated, the answer that the parent
" had an objection to vaccination," which has been occasionally
made, always appeared to be simply an excuse for the neglect;
and that, in fact, the reason why so much small pox prevails, from
the want of vaccination, is really that a certain number of parents
thoughtlessly and carelessly omit to have their children vaccinated.
If the provisions of the " Act further to extend and make
compulsory the practice of Vaccination" were fully carried out,
there would be but little trouble in ascertaining what children
had not been vaccinated. For the Act requires that Medical
Practitioners shall deliver to the Registrars a certificate of the
successful Vaccination of each child; and if these were compared
with a list of the births registered, the unvaccinated children
could be readily discovered.
But the Act is ineffective, for Medical Practitioners do not
send these certificates, I believe from their not being acquainted
with the Act. Neither has the Registrar General performed his
part, in sending books and forms in which these entries might be
made. And to call upon the parents of between 800 and 900
children, born in the parish every year, would require the appointment
of a Special Inspector.
During the year 26 cases of Small Pox were sent to the
hospital, 3 deaths occurring among them. At this rate, the 26
deaths occurring in the parish would have arisen among 485 cases
of the disease. But as the milder cases are not usually sent to the
hospital, the absolute number of cases which occurred in the parish
must have seen considerably larger than this. In the entire
metropolis, 2012 deaths arose from it; and at the death rate in
this parish, more than 17,437 cases of the disease must have
The Deaths from Measles were rather more than half those
occurring in 1862, but twice as many as those occurring in 1861.
The mortality from Typhus has suffered a diminution,
although it is still high, having caused 50 deaths in this parish
and 2892 in the entire metropolis. And it is with pleasure I bear
testimony to the great amount of good done, although the

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