One of the most pressing public healthcare issues during the Second World War was diphtheria, the leading cause of death of school-age children at the time.
Despite positive results in the US and Canada, Britain was slow to introduce a mass vaccination program. Boots took matters into its own hands by issuing an information leaflet for medical professionals in February 1940, urging action:
“What is needed is not a half-hearted effort, but a downright statement of the advantages of immunization against diphtheria. Political hedging will achieve nothing… a nation-wide campaign is needed.”
Soon thereafter, as millions of people were evacuating from urban areas due to the threat of wartime attacks, the government initiated a free diphtheria immunization programme to help prevent a public health outbreak.