More evidence to prove vaccines are a public health miracle

vaccinationSince ACSH was founded in 1978, we have been proponents of the view that vaccines are arguably the greatest achievement in public health, reducing death and disability more than any scientific discovery. Now, a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that point, finding that childhood vaccination programs have prevented more than 100 million cases of serious contagious disease in the United States since 1924.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh examined reports dating back to the 19th century, which recorded details regarding 56 diseases. The journal article included reports covering polio, measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis A, diphtheria and whooping cough. They compared the reports from before and after vaccines for those diseases became available to the public to estimate the number of prevented cases of disease due to vaccines. And although death rates were not included in the report because they were not reliably reported until the 1960s, Dr. Donald S. Burke, the dean of Pittsburgh s graduate school of public health and an author of the journal article, estimates that the number of prevented deaths would be three to four million.

If you re anti-vaccine, that s the price you pay, Dr. Burke reported to the NY Times. He also points to the recent outbreaks of certain diseases as parents refuse to vaccinate their children. Specifically, the article references the outbreak of whooping cough last year with more than 38,000 cases reported.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross adds, Take that, Jenny McCarthy! This study clearly points to the benefits of vaccinations. These numbers should really be more than enough to demonstrate the risks of not having your children vaccinated. Hopefully, this research will be used not only by members of the public but also by doctors who are having discussion with patients and parents of patients about being vaccinated.