People's History of the NHS

  • 14
  • MAR

Lastest Call: Tell Us Your Vaccination Story!

by Jane Hand

As we continue to compile a People’s History of the NHS we are updating our latest call and asking you to send us your memories and stories about vaccination.

Over the near 70 years of the NHS a great number of harmful childhood diseases have become part of a childhood vaccination schedule. Vivid memories of childhood diseases such as measles, polio and whopping cough have become intertwined with memories of being vaccinated against them. We hope that by asking you for your memories of vaccination (or not) we can see the cultural impact of these vaccinations to British society. The NHS itself has shifted from a pre-vaccine to post-vaccine era and we want to know what place these ‘jabs’ have in our collective memories of both childhood and our engagements with the NHS.

We’d like to know:

Do you remember being vaccinated as a child?

Do you remember the shift from a pre-vaccine to post-vaccine era?

Did you suffer from a childhood disease that a younger sibling was later vaccinated for?

Were you concerned about your children receiving vaccinations?

Do you feel different about receiving vaccinations in adulthood, e.g. flu vaccine?

What do these memories mean to you, or make you feel about the NHS today?

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4 thoughts on “Lastest Call: Tell Us Your Vaccination Story!

  1. My vaccination memory is non-vaccination story. The nurses came to our school and set up in the big hall that doubled up as exam room, assembly room, prize-giving and all the rest. They lined us all up, a good 100 nervous young adolescents, and gave us what I think was called a Heaf Test. A few days later all the other kids went back to be immunised except for me, because apparently they’d decided I had natural immunity. I remember my egotistical teenage mind being entirely convinced at the time that this was further evidence of my inherent superiority to my peers!

    1. What a great memory. It’s really interesting how our memories of vaccination (or non-vaccination) can be formed collectively and in relation to our peers, especially as they so often take place in school.

  2. I was inoculated against diphtheria in 1940 or 1941 at the age of 10/11.
    I was vaccinated against smallpox in 1944, at the age of 14, as there was a smallpox outbreak somewhere; I had not received this procedure as an infant. I have been revaccinated several times since, in the Army etc., and because of my job as a public health doctor.
    I can certainly remember when smallpox was eradicated in around 1977 and vaccination was discontinued.
    I was not concerned about my children receiving smallpox vaccination and subsequent immunisation procedures; in fact, I carried out most of these personally.
    I strongly approve of flu vaccination and my wife and I have this every autumn.
    I have the highest possible regard for the NHS in every sector.

  3. My Mum had us all vaccinated. I am 61 now but remember a boy we played with being really ill with Polio. Thankfully he recovered but was left with permanent and significant disability. I believe being vaccinated protected us from catching it too. Recently viewed the iron lung in London Science Museum; so glad to have been protected.

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