*Pox: An American History*, by Michael Willrich

The Medical Department’s vaccination program had carried vaccination to the people on an unprecedented scale.  According to Hoff, the vaccinators had performed nearly 860,000 operations (742,062 vaccinations and 116,955 revaccinations) in a period of five months.  And the vaccine produced at Coamo Springs was, by contemporary standards, good, with a reported success rate of 87.5 percent.  Colonial administrators always kept the bottom line in view.  Hoff noted with satisfaction that the entire vaccination campaign had cost only $43,000.

By the end of June, the “head-fire of vaccination” had stopped variola [smallpox] in its tracks.  In the decade before the arrival of the U.S. Army, the annual death rate from the disease had averaged 620 people.  From January 1 to April 30, 1900, not a single death from smallpox was reported.

This was done under a form of martial law.  The Philippines, under colonial control, was another early example of a largely successful public health program: “Americanized Manila stood as a model of the healthful city.”  Who would have thought?

It’s an interesting book.


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