Report on immunization in the camps

Vaccination Report summarizing how many inoculations were performed in the camp

This document covers all of the notes that Jean took for inoculation in the camps. It is a report for the Department of Public Health at Poston 1, which was finalized on September 10, 1945. The date on this report indicates that it was written near the disbanding of the Poston camp; therefore, it is a compilation of information on all of the inoculations performed throughout the duration of the camp and the number of camp internees qualified for an immunity certificate. An immunity certificate, or inoculation certificate, is still required to attend multiple public schools across the nation. Every immunization was recorded in a list. Jean also details the number of internees that suffer from physical defects, and lists the number of people from the defects. Jean proceeds to detail the number and the quality of births performed in the camp. She details the vaccinations given to the infants birthed in the camps and lists any peculiar physical conditions. In particular, there were a number of birth defects. Additionally, there is even recommended protocol for caring and delivering infants, as  birth rates in the camp were high She ends with a recommended inoculation protocol for any and all other camps, approved by the Department of Public Health. The importance of this document is that it underlines very clearly what medical and vaccination procedures the camps underwent. By cross-examining these medical records, it is possible to determine the quality of the medical facilities Poston 1 had. She also underlined how many births were in Poston 1, and listed the number of survivors and possible causes of death. Finally, she concludes with a concise report of recommendations for inoculation in all other internment camps.

Vaccination Poster during WWII

Vaccines are a key part of healthy American life. Ever since the invention of the smallpox vaccine in 1796, vaccines have been widely developed. By 1809, the first mandatory vaccination law was enacted in Massachusetts (Salmon). In California, where most of the Japanese Americans resided, vaccination was not yet mandatory. In addition, a large number of Issei, first generation Japanese immigrants, were unfamiliar with California’s inoculation policy, and therefore unable to obtain the vaccination. Vaccination is more effective the younger the child is, but due to high anti-vaccination sentiment in the 20th and 19th century, many parents chose to opt out of vaccinating their children. Smallpox was the most widespread virus, and the virus that had the most vaccines developed for it. Smallpox is a very harmful virus, as it quickly spreads and rapidly consumes a person, causing high fevers that bring upon death. Medical advances from World War I and World War II brought upon highly effective vaccines. Due to the advances of the smallpox vaccine,  “by 1942, less than 1,000 new cases of smallpox emerged in the United States” (Hodge). This is a remarkable trend in the increase of vaccination. However, multiple rural and foreign families did not receive vaccinations since they did not regularly visit hospitals. This in turn led to fewer check-ups and opportunities to become vaccinated. There were exceptions, but the general trend pointed towards a lack of vaccination.

Vaccination upon Entry


Vaccination in the Japanese American community rapidly rose by going to theinternment camps. The Japanese American community was the most vaccinated because of the government mandated inoculation policy for entering and residing in the camps. As shown from the Immunization Records document, there were a total of 1090 immunity treatments completed in just camp 1. The majority of those treated were children of high school age, making up almost half of the immunity treatments. A reason for this trend may be that some of the younger children had already received immunizations prior to entering the camp. When children reach high school age, they must undergo “re-immunization”, which is a process of administering booster shots to bolster their immune system. Additionally, it was more important to immunize children as they still went to school in the camps and would attend public schools outside of camp after internment had ended.

In the camps, most of the diseases immunized were the Smallpox virus and the Typhoid Virus. Typhoid Fever is still an ongoing disease, unlike the smallpox virus which has practically made extinct. The Typhoid vaccine, unlike the smallpox vaccine, requires a booster every 2 to 5 years. This is a possible explanation as to why children in the camps received more typhoid vaccines (219) than smallpox vaccines (195). The patients receiving the Typhoid vaccine were primarily children older than two years, which shows that study had already been done on the safety of the Typhoid vaccine. The Typhoid vaccine was a relatively new invention; it was not until the 1950s when the Typhoid vaccine was approved for widespread use. (Bockemühl).


Eric Dean



Bockemühl, J. “Typhoid vaccination yesterday and today.” Immun Infekt.. 11.1 (1983): 16-22. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.

CDC, . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typhoid Fever. Atlanta: Typhoid Fever, 2010. Web.

Hodge, James G. “School Vaccination Requirements: Historical, Social, and Legal Perspectives.” Center for Law and the Public’s Health at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities. (2002): 1-24. Web. 1 Mar. 2012.

Salmon, Daniel A. “Mandatory Immunization Laws and the Role of Medical, Religious and Philosophical Exemptions.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2002): n.1-2 page. Web. 22 Mar. 2012.

Lucas, Sally Jean. “Sally Jean Lucas Papers.” Letter 19-25 of Report of all Enteries of All Nursery School Children. Ed. Sally Lucas Jean, Comp. UNC Archives and Ed. . 1st. Chapel Hill: UNC Archives, Folder 74: 19-25. Print.

U.S. Library of Medicine. “Typhoid Vaccine.” Medline Plus. Bethesda: The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 1012. Web. 1 Mar 2012.