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Thursday, December 13, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: City proposes sweeping vaccination program for local youngsters

The city health officer wanted to vaccinate the region’s children, citing a resurgence of the Spanish flu. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The city health officer wanted to vaccinate the region’s children, citing a resurgence of the Spanish flu. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The city health officer proposed vaccinating all Spokane school children – at least, those whose parents gave the OK in writing – amid growing concern that the Spanish flu was making a comeback.

Dr. J.B. Anderson, in consultation with school officials and the county physician, said the vaccine had proven to be a reliable preventive measure in other parts of the country. The school board agreed to buy the serum, which would be given free by school nurses.

Anderson also gave a stern warning to Spokane residents: He was prepared to reinstitute the ban on public gatherings if people did not “show a disposition to stay out of crowds.” And this time, he said, the ban would be “a tight one in the exact sense of the word.”

All of this was prompted by the fact that 250 new cases of flu were reported in one day. The death toll stood at 230.

From the war beat: Jimmy Reed was a battle-hardened veteran of two years of war – and he was only 17.

Reed ran away from his Spokane home at age 15 and joined the British Navy before the U.S. had entered the war. The Spokane Daily Chronicle said he was probably the youngest boy from Spokane in the war.

He was looking for thrills – and he got them. He was serving on a minesweeper when his ship was blown to pieces by a mine. He clung to wreckage and was rescued the next morning.

Then he was assigned to another minesweeper, which was hit by a shell from a destroyer. Four of the crew were killed outright and many were injured. Reed was one of only four uninjured crew members.

He was home in Spokane on leave and expected to be discharged shortly. He had his quota of thrills and wanted to stay home with his parents.


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