Diseases and Vaccines of the 1920s

You might not have known but there were many diseases and illnesses during the 1920s that could have affected an ancestor of yours.

One especially bad was the typhoid epidemic. It was affecting the population in areas in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California in 1927. Besides typhoid, children were hit with infantile paralysis (polio), meningitis, measles and smallpox. Even with some vaccines available in the 1920s many people did not get the vaccine, especially children.

In Jackson County of Oregon, just in 1927, 80 people died of smallpox. The same was for surrounding areas, which had 80 plus active cases of smallpox, but there was a push to get the vaccine into residents. To limit the spread, church services, schools and movie houses were closed.

A big help during the 1920s was requiring youngsters in schools to get various vaccines. Once such childhood immunization programs became widespread did a real drop happen in measles, whooping cough and diphtheria.

So research if you had ancestors who either suffered or died from diseases of the 1920s.

Photo: 1920s smallpox vaccines given.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:


Illnesses of Long Ago

Old-Time Terms for Illnesses

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