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January 28, 1899


JAMA. 1899;XXXII(4):187-188. doi:10.1001/jama.1899.02450310035006

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When the British parliament passed the act permitting an evasion of compulsory vaccination on the ground of "conscientious objections," it was contended, in answer to its opponents, that this clause would be taken advantage of by but a very small proportion of the population, and that whatever evil consequences might ensue would be minimal at the very worst. Since the passage of the act, however, the number of claimants for exemption on the ground of conscience has, if we are to trust a London dispatch, become alarmingly large—some 500,000 certificates have, it is estimated, been already given out, presumably to heads of families. The magistrates, it seems, have no discretion in the matter, but must give the certificate to whoever is willing to swear that he or she is actuated by conscientious scruples against vaccination.

When we consider the comparatively short time that has elapsed since the passage of the

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