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September 14, 1907


JAMA. 1907;XLIX(11):946. doi:10.1001/jama.1907.02530110058009

The complexity of modern life makes it difficult at times to reconcile the preservation of public safety with individual liberty. This is nowhere more marked than in the enforcement of regulations for the control of infectious diseases. In the matter of protection against smallpox by vaccination the importunities of the ignorant majority have resulted, in most countries, in the adoption of a "conscientious objectors'" clause to the regulations regarding inoculation. This clause allows those individuals who have "conscientious objections" to vaccination to dispense with this most essential prophylactic measure, both for themselves and their children. Did such dictates of conscience react only to the detriment of those who are old enough to hold such opinions, little objection could possibly be raised. Unfortunately, the ones most liable to suffer are the helpless children of such individuals. This point is well brought out by the recent outbreak of smallpox in Vienna,1

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