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The mantra “safe and effective” began with smallpox vaccines; were they “safe and effective”?

Featured image: Dr Edward Jenner performing his first vaccination against smallpox on James Phipps, a boy of eight (left). Nurses prepare a boy to have a smallpox vaccination, New York, circa 1950 (right).  Both images were sourced from Getty Images.

It is important to understand the history of disease and vaccination to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.  For the history of vaccination, there is no better place to start than the smallpox vaccine.

The smallpox vaccine is considered one of the most significant achievements in the history of medicine. It has paved the way for the development of vaccines against other diseases.

The first successful vaccine was developed by Edward Jenner in 1796 and its “success” led to a global effort to eradicate the disease. The World Health Organisation launched a global campaign in 1959 to eradicate smallpox, which was declared successful in 1980. It is claimed that the last naturally occurring case of smallpox was reported in Somalia in 1977, and the disease was officially declared eradicated in 1980.

The effort to eradicate smallpox involved universal childhood immunisation programmes in some countries and mass vaccination in others.  Most believe the smallpox vaccine was “safe and effective,” a mantra repeatedly used for all vaccines since then.

But, was the smallpox vaccine as safe and effective as has been lauded? 

In the following, Roman Bystrianyk reproduces some quotes about smallpox vaccines that have been erased from history. When you read them, it’s not hard to figure out why.

Roman Bystrianyk: Doctor’s Quotes Erased from History, 25 May 2024 (15 mins)

If you are unable to watch the video above on Rumble, you can watch it on Odysee HERE.

Smallpox. It was once believed that this disease could be defeated by repeatedly scratching people’s arms with material from the sores of someone infected with smallpox – a procedure known as inoculation. Smallpox inoculation began in 1721 and was widely celebrated at its introduction as one of the greatest medical discoveries and a well-established fact in medical science. Despite being initially hailed as a completely harmless invention, inoculation had a 2-3% fatality rate.[1]

Data from the London Bills of Mortality indicate that inoculation did not mitigate smallpox in any significant way. In fact, deaths from smallpox increased by 50% throughout the 1700s. Thus, the procedure was neither safe nor widely effective.

Inoculation was eventually abolished in England and Ireland by an Act of Parliament in 1840, after being widely promoted and used for nearly 120 years. However, even after its abolition, medical texts continued to praise inoculation as one of the most “remarkable” and “exciting” medical interventions.[2]

Inoculation was eventually replaced by a slightly modified approach proposed by Edward Jenner, who used material from a cowpox sore instead of a smallpox sore. Initially called cowpoxing, it was soon rebranded as vaccination. On 17 March 1802, Jenner petitioned the House of Commons, asserting that vaccination was perfectly safe, provided lifelong protection, and would eradicate smallpox worldwide.

“That your petitioner having discovered that a disease which occasionally exists in a particular form among cattle, known by the name of cow-pox, admits of being inoculated [vaccinated] on the human frame with the most perfect ease and safety, and is attended with the singularly beneficial effect of rendering through life the person so inoculated perfectly secure from the infection of small-pox… [vaccination] has already checked the progress of small-pox, and, from its nature, must finally annihilate that dreadful disorder.”[3] — Edward Jenner, 17 March 1802

A deep, prevalent medical mythology rapidly took root almost immediately since vaccination’s inception. Most today believe that “Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine to prevent smallpox infections, and this success led to the global eradication of smallpox and the development of many more life-saving vaccines.”[4] Most believe the vaccine was “safe and effective,” a mantra repeatedly used for all vaccines since then.

But, in reality, the material used in a vaccine was never just from a cow, as legend holds. Instead, vaccination was essentially a brand name used to describe pus and blood from a variety of animals (cows, horses, goats, pigs, sheep, mules, donkeys, buffaloes, rabbits) and humans (including corpses of those who died from smallpox), microbes and chemicals scratched onto people with the intention of protecting them from smallpox.

[“Multiple site vaccination of 1898, showing a ‘typically good arm,’” Derrick Baxby,
“Smallpox Vaccination Techniques; from Knives and Forks to Needles and Pins,” 
Vaccine, vol. 20, no. 16, May 15, 2002, p. 2142.]

Not only did the vaccine material come from various sources, but it was also repeatedly transferred from person to person in a process known as arm-to-arm vaccination. This method was used for 100 years until it was outlawed in 1898. Conventional medicine of the time wholeheartedly embraced the idea of scraping a mystery brew of microbes and chemicals onto people as long as it was labelled “pure lymph” or “vaccine.” Any medical professionals who did not walk lockstep with the gold standards of the time were dismissed out of hand and ostracised despite having many legitimate concerns about the safety and effectiveness of this highly invasive procedure.

[“Hideously sore vaccination arm,” F.G. Attwood MD,
“Vaccination,” The New York Medical Journal, December 2,
1899, p. 803.; “About one in ten of all vaccinated have bad arms,
with a high grade of fever,” William Scott Tebb, MA, MD, DPH, 
A Century of Vaccination and What It Teaches, Second Edition,
1899, Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Lim., London, p. 373.]

The following quotes, as well as hundreds of others, come from medical professionals who had dissenting opinions about the highly profitable orthodox view. By reading these quotes, you can judge their veracity and determine whether their criticisms were reasonable and legitimate and if they should have been, and still should be, heeded.

1. the practice of vaccination is absurd, superfluous, and worse than useless. But as, in numerous instances, death has happened from small-pox after cow-pox; and as cow-pox produces other diseases, of which many cases have terminated in death; the practice is directly, positively, and extremely pernicious to society. And, as having been the medium of defrauding the public probably of millions of money, which never has been accounted for, and for which vaccinating adventurers have been scrambling and fighting in the name of philanthropyI hold it to be an imposture, not simply disgraceful to science, pernicious to health, and dangerous to life; but destructive to the morals of the faculty, and injurious to the purses of the community.”[5] — Charles Maclean, MD, 1810

2. “…it surely would be unreasonable to expect the public should continue their patronage and confidence, when their safety is positively and confessedly in the greatest danger; and it would be downright madness to imagine they ought, or will continue to adopt vaccination, as a defence against small-pox, when experience has proved that no one who trusts to that practice is protected, or his life safe against the variolous epidemic, but must fly from it for safety; and more especially when even now, seven or eight of every hundred vaccinated cases have, for some years past, fallen a prey to small-pox, which exceeds twenty times the number that died from inoculation with small-pox; and also, as far as present experience goes, much above a half of all who have placed their security in vaccination have undergone an attack of small-pox, and that there is no security for anyone who has undergone vaccination, as a protection against the variolous epidemic.”[6] — Thomas Brown, Surgeon, Musselburgh, Scotland, 1842

3. “The vaccine virus is a poison. As such it penetrates all organic systems, and infects them in such a way as to act repressively on the pox. It is neither antidote nor corrigent [therapeutic], nor does it neutralise the small-pox, but only paralyses the expansive power of a good constitution, so that the disease has to fall back upon the mucous membrane. Nobody has the right to transplant such a mischievous poison compulsorily into the life of a child.”[7] — Dr. John Epps, 25 years director of the Jennerian Institute, London, England, had vaccinated about 120,000 people, London Vaccine Institute Report, 1863.

4. “I have recently dissected more than a dozen children whose deaths were caused by vaccination, and no small-pox, however black, could have left more hideous traces of its malignant sores, foul sloughing, hearts empty or congested with clots, than did some of these little victims. Shame! Indeed, scarcely a day elapses but I am called upon to witness the sufferings of vaccinated children in the form of cerebral and gastric complications, persistent vomiting, bronchitis, diarrhoea, with pustules in the mouth or throat (pharynx), on the eyelids, and ulceration of the cornea, which remains opaque and may lead to blindness.”[8] — William Hycheman, MD, 40 years’ experience as a Doctor of Medicine, 1879

5. “Vaccination is a practice that causes a vast amount of disease and suffering. Its effects are far more terrible than the disease it is designed to prevent. No matter how pure the vaccine matter may appear to be, virus is left in the system, which will, sooner or later, be developed in scrofula or some other filthy disease. Were I to relate a few of the cases that have fallen under my observation of persons injured by this practice [vaccination], it would fill the mind with horror.”[9] —J. R. Newton, MD, Boston, Massachusetts, 1879

6. “From experience I have seen more evils result from vaccination than I ever saw result from small-pox. In the first place, I have seen direct fatal results from vaccination. In the second place, I have seen chronic-incurably chronic-disease the result of vaccination, and death after the lapse of many years; and, in the third place, I have seen introduced into the system, through vaccination, diseases of a destructive character, especially syphilis.

I was vaccinated when a boy, and a few years afterwards I took small-pox. I vaccinated my first four children. One of them died certainly from vaccination, and another was never strong after he was vaccinated. I would rather be shot than have anyone of my family vaccinated.”[10] —John Le Gay Brereton, Esquire, MD, Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, 1881

7. “After fifty years’ experience, I arrived at the conclusion that vaccination was not only useless as a preventative, but dangerous. I decline the risk of vaccination, and would not vaccinate my bitterest enemy.”[11] —Thomas Brett, MD, London, England, Speech, April 17th, 1883

8. “The positive injuries of vaccination to health and life have been so indelibly inscribed on the tables of record that they should stand as a warning before the eye of every man who raises his lancet for the purpose of rendering miserable the life of his fellow creature. Even the greatest enthusiast for the compulsory law cannot deny those dangers. The entire medical and social literature are full of facts that prove them.

“Therefore, as vaccination renders no protection against small-pox, but is dangerous to life and health, and as long as we have the means in cleanliness, pure air, and temperate habits to avoid small-pox as well as any other epidemic disease, it is high time to abandon a measure filthy in its origin, deceiving in the service expected of it, and dangerous to life in its effects.”[12] —M. Deschere, MD, 1883

9. “It would thus appear that a large proportion of the vaccination now performed is in reality but a modified form of inoculation, having smallpox as its basis, and containing nothing of the Jennerian method but the name. It is not cow-pox, neither spontaneous nor inoculated from horse-grease, but it is smallpox propagated from human beings, through calves, to human beings again.

“It will thus be seen what slight foundation the whole question of vaccinal virus rests. Millions of vaccinations are made every year, and nobody knows what they are made with. The whole process is a haphazard game with chance. Vaccination was accepted on the simple dictum of Jenner that it would stamp out smallpox. The medical profession of today buys its vaccinal virus of those who make merchandise of it on their simple dictum that it is the right thing to use… I compiled a list of upwards of a thousand instances of persons who had suffered permanent injury, or death [from vaccination]… Of these, nine have been personally known to me.”[13] —George William Winterburn, PhD, MD, 1886

10. “We have at our command testimonies – scores of testimonies – proving beyond any possible doubt that men unvaccinated have nursed small-pox patients in hospitals at different times, for years, and never took the disease, while on the other hand we have, with the dates and figures, the most positive proof that those who had been vaccinated—vaccinated two and three times—took the disease when exposed, and died there-from. These facts are undeniable.”[14] —J. M. Peebles, MD, PhD, 1913

11. “Did you ever take the time to ask yourself the question: What is vaccination? Did you ever think of the thousands of innocent babes and children who have died from its effects? Did you ever stop to think of the thousands of children who have become seriously ill and crippled by it? Did you ever stop to think of the twenty or more million dollars that are invested by the vaccine manufacturers in the United States alone? Did you ever realise that many diseases of childhood are largely due to the debilitating effect of vaccination?

“Did you ever think of the many prominent physicians of all schools who are now more than ever before opposed to vaccination, and who do not vaccinate their own children? Do you know that many eminent physicians, scientists, editors, scholars, bacteriologists, statisticians and thinking people in general, have condemned this vaccination bugaboo as productive of the gravest injuries; that vaccination never did protect, does not protect, and can not protect one from smallpox; that many thousands of children have developed smallpox and other diseases, after being vaccinated a number of times? These questions are very important ones to parents and all persons who are interested in health and human welfare.”[15] —Simon Louis Katzoff, PhD, MD, 1920

12. “Vaccination has never been anything but a delusion, maintained only by professional greed and a misunderstanding entirely to the physical health and needs of humanity. Once these rules are fully understood, no respectable physician will be guilty of practicing vaccination either on children or adults.”[16] —Joe Shelby Riley, MD, PhD, 1921


  • [1] Frederick F. Cartwright, Disease and History, 1972, Rupert Hart-Davis, London, p. 124.

  • [2] John Forbes, MD, FRS, ‎Alexander Tweedie, MD, FRS, and ‎John Conolly, MD, “Sketch of the State of American Medicine Before the Revolution,” The Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine, 1845, pp. 231–242.

  • [3] John Baron, The Life of Edward Jenner, pp. 490–491.

  • [4] “Smallpox and the story of vaccination,”

  • [5] Charles Maclean, MD, On the State of Vaccination in 1810, London, pp. 101, 103.

  • [6] Thomas Brown of Musselburgh, Surgeon, An Investigation of the present Unsatisfactory and Defective State of Vaccination, 1842, pp. 136–137.

  • [7] Terrible Results of Vaccination: TESTIMONIES concerning Vaccination and its Enforcement: by Scientists, Statisticians, Philosophers, Publicists, and Vaccine Physicians, 1892, Providence, Snow & Farnham, Printers, pp. 13–14.

  • [8] William Hycheman, MD, “Small-pox and Vaccination,” The Medical Tribune, February 15, 1879, vol. I, no. 4, pp. 172–175.

  • [9] “Medical Opinion on Vaccination,” Journal of Hygeio-therapy, vol. II, no. 2, February 1888, p. 35.

  • [10] “John Le Gay Bereton, Esq., MD, MRCS, LAC,” New South Wales, Compulsory Vaccination, Presented to the Parliament by Command, September 20, 1881, Sydney: Thomas Richards, Government Printer, pp. 1043–1046.

  • [11] Robert A. Gunn, MD, “The Truth About Vaccination,” The Sanitarian: A Monthly Magazine, vol. XXVII, 1891, New York, pp. 553–554.

  • [12] M. Deschere, MD, “Vaccination before the Tribunal of History,” North American Journal of Homeopathy, November 1883, pp. 190, 192.

  • [13] George William Winterburn, PhD, MD, The Value of Vaccination: A Non-partisan Review of Its History and Results, 1886, pp. 42–43.

  • [14] J. M. Peebles, MD, MA, PhD, Vaccination a Curse and a Menace to Personal Liberty, Tenth Edition, 1913, p. 8.

  • [15] Simon L. Katzoff, MD, “The Compulsory Vaccination Crime,” Machinists’ Monthly Journal, vol. XXXII, no. 2, February 1920, p. 109.

  • [16] Joe Shelby Riley, MD, MS, PhD, Conquering Units: Or The Mastery of Disease, 1921, pp. 883–4.

About the Author

Roman Bystrianyk has an extensive background in health and nutrition, a Bachelor of Science in engineering, and a Master of Science in computer science.  He is co-author of ‘Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History’ and  ‘Moving Back from Midnight: Working together to save our planet’, which describes an apocalyptic collapse of human civilisation and much of the life on the planet due to human-caused environmental destruction as predicted by the 1947 Doomsday Clock. Bystrianyk publishes articles on a Substack page which you can subscribe to and follow HERE.


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