“[Edward] Jenner introduced vaccination nearly a hundred years ago. He said, or others said for him, that people who contracted cow-pox could never con tract small-pox. In spite of innumerable proofs that small-pox does follow cow-pox, we find the statement repeated as if it had never suffered contradiction. If a person be vaccinated and does not take small-pox, it is held that he has been saved from small-pox by his vaccination; but if he does take small-pox, then it is said there must have been something wrong with the virus, or some defect in it’s administration. In short, whatever is wrong, vaccination must be right, and there is no possible failure which, on such terms cannot be explained away.
Medical men, as a rule, believe in vaccination from want of knowledge. They are bred in the faith that vaccination is a preventive of small-pox, and go on to practise it and to live by it. Be fair, therefore, to the doctors, and ask yourselves whether you would not believe as they do, and act as they do, if your training and interest coincided with theirs. We believe our teachers. I never heard of anti-vaccinators except as fools and fanatics, whose existence was marvellous. The only knowledge of vaccination I had was from a medical lecture explaining the nature of the process and the usual effects that follow it.
Yet so firmly was I persuaded of its efficacy that having a healthy child, the antecedents of which I knew, I took the opportunity of protecting myself; but as I was busy and fearing inconvenience from my arm, I vaccinated myself on the leg; but it laid me up. I had cold shivers and was thoroughly upset, and had to give up work for a time. I afterwards suffered from swollen glands. It took nearly a year before the “marks” became the colour of the natural skin, and even now, if I am at all out of sorts they feel irritated. I have become an opponent of vaccination out of my own experience.”
— Thomas Baird Allison, MD (1861-1930)