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A History of an Anti-Vaccinationist Cartoon

Smallpox is a now eradicated virus that caused high fevers, fatigues and a rash. It is estimated to have killed some 300 million people from 1900 alone and a vaccine for the illness was first developed in 1796. Despite this development, scepticism about vaccines remained high. The Anti Vaccination Society of America was founded in 1879, for instance following a visit to America by leading British anti-vaccinationist William Tebb.

This contributed to the fact that the illness was not eradicated until the 1980s.

Just as disinformation against vaccinations resurfaced yet again in 2021, so too did a cartoon warning readers about the dangers it brings.

The oddly topical cartoon shows four men — identified as an “anti-vaccinationist,” a “faddist,” “Mr. Careless,” and “anti-everything” — walking over a cliff labeled “misinformation” with the smallpox virus (represented by a bog) below.

A precedent to some of today’s editorial graphics,
Truth or Fiction investigates the history of a 1930 cartoon about anti-vaccinationists.

Community Comments

#1 Louis Richards
@ 4:43 am

Clearly, a good cartoon is timeless.

Unless human nature changes drastically.

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