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

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Malden and Coombe 1952

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Malden & Coombe]

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The fear of diphtheria has declined among parents in a direct
relation to the decline of the disease itself; the majority of parents
of young children nowadays have never seen or heard of a case of
diphtheria among their neighbours' children and are more afraid
of illnesses they know than of the dangers of diphtheria. It cannot
be said too often that "diphtheria still kills" and that elimination
of this disease is conditional upon the maintenance of an
adequate level of immunisation.
In 1901, 10,000 persons died from diphtheria in England and
Wales: In 1951 this had been reduced to 33. Since 1944 (when
records of corrected notifications were first kept) notifications
have fallen from over 23,000 in that year to a new low figure of
274 for the first 9 months of 1952.

The following are (corrected) since 1944:—

figures for

deaths and notifications

YearDeathsCorrected Notifications

(9 months only)
* Provisional.
From being one of the most serious causes of death of
children in this country, diphtheria has now fallen to a position
of numerical insignificance. It must not be allowed to revert.
Vaccination against smallpox is not now compulsory, the
Vaccination Acts 1867 to 1907 having been repealed by the
National Health Service Act, 1946.
As with diphtheria immunisation, all medical practitioners
providing general medical services in the area are given an
opportunity to provide services for carrying out vaccinations.
During the year the following were performed:—
Vaccinations 414
Revaccinations 153
Total 567