A GUIDE TO HEALTH
BY MAHATMA GANDHI
6: CONTAGIOUS DISEASES: SMALL-POX
Vaccination is a barbarous practice, and it is one of the most fatal of all the delusions current in our time, not to be found even among the so-called savage races of the world. Its supporters are not content with its adoption by those who have no objection to it, but seek to impose it with the aid of penal laws and rigorous punishments on all people alike. The practice of vaccination is not very old, dating as it does only from 1798 A.D. But, during this comparatively short period that has elapsed, millions have fallen a prey to the delusion that those who get themselves vaccinated are safe from the attack of small-pox. No one can say that small-pox will necessarily attack those who have not been vaccinated; for many cases have been observed of unvaccinated people being free from its attack. From the fact that some people who are not vaccinated do get the [Pg 107]disease, we cannot, of course, conclude that they would have been immune if only they had got themselves vaccinated.
Moreover, vaccination is a very dirty process, for the serum which is introduced into the human body includes not only that of the cow, but also of the actual small-pox patient. An average man would even vomit at the mere sight of this stuff. If the hand happens to touch it, it is always washed with soap. The mere suggestion of tasting it fills us with indignation and disgust. But how few of those who get themselves vaccinated realise that they are in effect eating this filthy stuff! Most people know that, in several diseases, medicines and liquid food are injected into the blood, and that they are assimilated into the system more rapidly than if they were taken through the mouth. The only difference, in fact, between injection and the ordinary process of eating through the mouth is that the assimilation in the former case is instantaneous, while that in the latter is slow. And yet we do not shrink from getting ourselves vaccinated! As has been well said, cowards die a living death, and our craze for vaccination is solely due to the fear of death or disfigurement by small-pox.
The vaccine is a filthy substance, and it is foolish to expect that one kind of filth can be removed by another.