Unfortunately, your browser is too old to work on this website. Please upgrade your browser

United Kingdom Vaccination Act 1853

The Vaccination Act 1853 made it compulsory for all children born after 1 August 1853 to be vaccinated against smallpox during their first 3 months of life. Parents who failed to get their children vaccinated would be subject to a fine.

By the 1860s, two-thirds of babies were vaccinated. As a result, there was a fall in the death rate due to smallpox.

However, reports of deaths and outbreaks created doubts about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. Vaccination was opposed by people and organisations such as the anti-vaccination leagues.


University of Glasgow.
Scottish way of birth and death: Vaccination.
University of Glasgow; nd.

Brown R.
Public health reform 1854-1914: revised version.
Looking at History; 2010.

Williamson S.
One hundred years ago: Anti-Vaccination Leagues.
Archives of Disease in Childhood.
1984; 59: 1195–1196.