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Smallpox Vaccination in the Phillipines 1905-1920
Note: Source of this article is uncertain: (received in Email)
Author is Lionel Dole

Smallpox Vaccination in the Phillipines 1905-1920

In the Philippines, prior to US takeover in 1905, case mortality from smallpox was about 10%. In 1905, following the commencement of systematic vaccination enforced by the US Government, an epidemic occurred where the case mortality ranged from 25% to 50% in different parts of the islands. In 1918-1919 with over 95% of the population vaccinated, the worst epidemic in the Philippine's history occurred resulting in a case mortality of 65%. The highest percentage occurred in the capital Manila, the most thoroughly vaccinated place. The lowest percentage occurred in Mindanao, the least vaccinated place owing to religious prejudices. Dr V de Jesus, Director of Health, stated that the 1918-1919 smallpox epidemic resulted in 60,855 deaths. The 1920 Report of the Philippines Health Service contains the following comments:

"From the time in which smallpox was practically eradicated In the city of Manila to the year 1918 (about 9 years) in which the epidemic appears certainly In one of its severest forms, hundreds after hundreds of thousands of people were yearly vaccinated with the most unfortunate result that the 1918 epidemic looks prima facie as a flagrant failure of the classic Immunization towards future epidemics".

"We were fortunate enough to address their own medical (and) health officials where we reminded them of the incidence of smallpox in formerly "immunized" Filipinos. We invited them to consult their own medical records and asked them to correct us if our own facts and figures disagreed. No such correction has been forthcoming, and we can only conclude that between 1918-1919 there were 112,549 cases of smallpox notified, with 60,855 deaths. Systematic (mass) vaccination started in 1905, and since its introduction case mortality increased alarmingly. Their own records comment that "The mortality is hardly explainable."---Dr Kalokerinos (Second Thoughts on Disease by Kalokerinos & Dettman)

In 1918, the US Army forced the vaccination of 3,285,376 natives in the Philippines when no epidemic was brewing, only the sporadic cases of the usual mild nature. Of the vaccinated persons, 47,369 came down with small-pox, and of these 16,477 died. In 1919 the experiment was doubled. 7,670,252 natives were vaccinated. Of these 65,180 victims came down with small-pox, and 44,408 died. In the first experiment, one-third died, and in the second, two-thirds of the infected ones died. ----- from Dr. William Koch's book, The Survival Factor in Neoplastic and Viral Diseases.

"When the Philippines were taken over by the U.S.A., in 1898, they became a shop-window for the sale of vaccine. They had had plenty of vaccination, of course, under Spanish rule, but the Americans began to clean the place up, and the smallpox figures took a big dive, as might have been expected—and the vaccinators took the big bows, as usual. The sale of vaccine was enormous. The health reports prove this—an account rendered for the taxpayers to pay. When, however, the inevitable epidemic came, in 1918-20, it is worth noting that, out of a population of 10,000,000, the huge total of 71,000 deaths was more than equalled by several other epidemics during the same three years. Malaria took 93,000, influenza 91,000, tuberculosis 80,000, while dysentery, cholera and typhus together took another 70,000. It will be seen, therefore, that, during one of the very worst epidemics in all history, the deaths from smallpox were well below 1 per cent of the population. Yet we are always being told of the millions of lives saved by the noble work of Jenner and his prosperous followers."
--Lionel Dole