This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Two brief messages by Dr. Israel Weinstein, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health on smallpox and smallpox vaccinations.
Intro by announcer.
What is the real situation? Is there cause for undue alarm? The situation is apparently under control. Yes, there will be mass vaccinations. Likens it to a small fire with flammable material around. There have been cases and many people in the city are unprotected. We've been very lucky so far. You can't get everyone. And any unvaccinated person in contact with someone who has it may get it. The Health Department regrets the long lines and inconvenience. Never before have so many people been vaccinated at one time. There was a shortage of material in neighboring communities. No use blaming anyone. Prompt action by the Mayor has brought an end to the shortage. Hoping the drugstores will be stocked. Red Cross personnel coming in. We had planned to do the job in 3.5 weeks. It will happen in a much shorter time. Recalls epidemic of 1902. Six months to vaccinate 800,000. In less than a week more than 1.5 million have been vaccinated. Priority vaccinations. Children will be vaccinated in the schools. Remember it is only vaccination that is protection against ravages of this disease that leaves in its trail death and destruction.
Announcer - out.
I have just come from the Mayor's office where there was a conference on the subject of smallpox. The mayor is concerned about the appearance of this disease in the city. Now there is no cause to undue alarm thanks to the fact that most people are protected by vaccination. Likelihood of a serious outbreak is slight. However, even a single case cannot be taken likely. We have had seven cases to date and 2 have died. Now there is no reason for waiting longer. Only one method of protection. Vaccination. Quarantine and isolation is not sufficient. You must have vaccinated. Vaccinated are throughly protected. Last? Varies in individuals. Average is 5 to 7 years. However, when smallpox appears it is too late to gamble. I was vaccinated when the disease appeared here and I think it was my 16th vaccination. I felt it was foolish not to do so. The Health Department has its clinics and health centers…The Department of Hospitals -150 of public and private hospitals. Taxed our stock. But beginning Wednesday we will have clinics at the police departments. Urge you to go to your private Dr. Otherwise the city will do it for free. If there is any community with unvaccinated people small pox will appear. The disease is cause with a virus that is airborne. How you can get the disease. The most communicable of all diseases. High death rate. If you don't die, you can be blinded or injured. Don't want to scare you but we do feel that every person should have protection. Priority cases.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 37273