Anti-Typhoid and Forced Innoculation

S. Walker, ‘The Greater Good: Agency and Inoculation in the British Army, 1914-18’, CBMH, Volume 36 Issue 1, (spring 2019), pp. 131-157.

As the First World War progressed, rates of typhoid diminished. This was heralded as a triumph of sanitary improvement and disease protection; yet as to how the British military achieved this remains a contentious issue. Objections arose around the danger of inoculation and the unpleasant and potentially deadly side effects.

Anti-typhoid vaccination in World war I. Photograph.
CC BY Credit: Wellcome Collection

 

Between the unaffected and the victims of the vaccine, the unexplored stories of the refusers. Often bizarre, their accounts include stories of unsanctioned cajoling, arrests, suspension of privileges, and even forcedness inoculation. Soldiers could be encouraged, convinced, and in rare cases, even forced to undergo inoculation. For others, the opportunity has been made clear, as inoculation has become part of routine military life. Despite the fact that they have been in their own hands, the reality is often different. Penalties for noncompliance and lack of control over the limits of the individual’s ability to maintain control of the individual’s health.

 

As the First World War progressed, typhoid rates decreased. Although this has been heralded as a triumph of health improvement and disease protection, the way in which the British army has survived remains a controversial issue. Objections have arisen regarding the danger of vaccination and its unpleasant or even life-threatening side effects. Beyond the course of individuals who have suffered the side effects of the vaccine and those who have not been affected, the story of the soldiers who refused the vaccine remains unexplored. Their stories are often bizarre, including stories of unauthorized coaxing, arrests, suspension of privileges, and even forced inoculations. Soldiers could be encouraged, convinced and, in rare cases, even forced to get vaccinated. For others, the option to refuse treatment was rarely stated clearly, especially since vaccination was now part of military life. Although soldiers normally had to be completely independent of their vaccination, the reality was often different. Because of the sanctions imposed and lack of clarity on the rights of the soldier, a conflict between individual autonomy and an authoritarian regime determined to ensure the health of combatants developed during the war. Although soldiers normally had to be completely independent of their vaccination, the reality was often different. Because of the sanctions imposed and lack of clarity on the rights of the soldier, a conflict between individual autonomy and an authoritarian regime determined to ensure the health of combatants developed during the war. Although soldiers normally had to be completely independent of their vaccination, the reality was often different. Because of the sanctions imposed and lack of clarity on the rights of the soldier, a conflict between individual autonomy and an authoritarian regime determined to ensure the health of combatants developed during the war.

 

To learn more – read this article at The Greater Good: Agency and Inoculation in the British Army, 1914-18. 

Additional Reading –

Anne Hardy, “Straight Back to Barbarism”: Antityphoid Inoculation and the Great War, 1914′, Bull. Hist. Med., 2000, 74: 265-290

E. Wright, Health for Heroes

G Dennis Shanks, ‘How World War 1 changed global attitudes to war and infectious diseases’ Lancet 2014; 384: 1699–707.

Memoriam – Sir Almroth Wright, JRAMC, (1947)

WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: