Smallpox in Australia

Published: 18 September 1913

Until this year it seemed as if Australia was somehow immune to smallpox. In the last three decades there have very few reported deaths from the disease. The Australians had relied on a policy of quarantining and vaccinating immigrants, but since April this now seems to have failed. The disease was first seen in large numbers amongst the Maori population of New Zealand and somehow it moved across to Australia and, in particular, Sydney. There have now been over 400 cases in the last three months.

A panic ensued amongst the population who demanded vaccinations. Unfortunately many doctors were unfamiliar with the vaccination procedure and overdosed many patients who subsequently suffered worse illnesses than if they had contracted smallpox. The lesson from the Australian experience is that all vaccination schemes have to be rigidly enforced, universally applied and correctly administered.

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.