Vaccines: The reason we have 103 million FEWER cases of disease

We often get comments from anti-vaxxers who completely disregard the incredible benefit of vaccinations and instead hype up misinformation on alleged dangers. Well, suck it, antivaxxers!

Why we vaccinate–103 million cases of diseases averted since 1924.

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and led by Willem G. van Panhuis, MD, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, closely examined the patterns of infectious diseases in the US and the effects of licensing of vaccines on those diseases. The study aimed to provide us with visibility to the number of cases of each disease that were prevented since the introduction of vaccines.

As a result of this research, the authors found that about 103 million cases, of just seven infectious diseases, were prevented since vaccines for the diseases were licensed and introduced in the USA. These 103 million cases would have appeared despite improvements in medicine (of course without vaccines, one of the greatest tools of medicine), safer food and better sanitation (or whatever vaccine deniers believe, without evidence, ended infectious diseases).

The researchers digitized all of the data, from 1888 to 2011, that was reported weekly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (or other Federal agencies, like the US Public Health Service and US Marine Corps who had responsibility for the data prior to the existence of the CDC). The CDC was established to track morbidity and mortality from diseases (and other activities like accidents), but the process was ongoing before the CDC existed.

[…]the 103 million cases averted is a low estimate, since the authors did not include other vaccine preventable diseases such as chickenpox, hepatitis B, smallpox (even though the vaccine was available over 200 years ago, and the disease is “extinct”, it was eliminated by vaccines), and other diseases. The number could be substantially higher.

Link to the study here (subscription)

Do not miss this companion piece by David Gorski  Vaccines work. Period. « Science-Based Medicine. It’s a must read.

As much as I get chastised by concern trolls for saying this, to antivaccinationists it really is all about the vaccines. Always. They blame autism, other neurodevelopmental conditions, and a wide variety of chronic diseases on vaccines, without evidence that there is even a correlation. They even falsely blame sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) on vaccines, even though there is no evidence of an association and, indeed, existing evidence suggests that vaccines likely have a protective effect against SIDS more than anything else. No matter what happens, no matter what the evidence says, antivaccinationists will always find a way to blame bad things on vaccines, even going so far as to claim at times that shaken baby syndrome is a misdiagnosis for vaccine injury.

Over the Thanksgiving long weekend here in the US, there appeared a study that simply emphasizes once again that vaccines work. More importantly, it estimates how well they work. I’ve frequently said that vaccines are the medical intervention that have saved more lives than any other, and this study by investigators at the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school of public health, published on Thanksgiving Day in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and showing up on the news the day before provides yet more evidence to support my assertion. In one way, it’s a shame that it was published over a long holiday weekend here in the US, where it was unlikely to garner as much attention as it normally might have at another time. On the other hand, it was Thanksgiving, and if there is anything we should be thankful for it’s that so few children die of vaccine-preventable diseases anymore. This study simply underlines this.

What the authors did was a massive undertaking that involved going back over case reports from before and after times when specific vaccines became commercially available. Boiled down to its essence, the study examined these reports and came up with estimates for cases of a disease prevented based on the drop in cases after the vaccine for that disease came into widespread use, and they did it all the way back to 1888.

This. This result is why we at Doubtful News do not suffer anti-vaccination comments. Ever. Go away, go back to the rock under which you live. You deny reality and we shall have none of your nonsense.

Vaccines. They work. Fact.

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  8 comments for “Vaccines: The reason we have 103 million FEWER cases of disease

  1. Chris Howard
    December 3, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    So what you’re saying is, is that vaccines work?

    Did they ever figure out what that long, grey, slug-like thing was, from that other post?

    I kid. ;-)

    • December 4, 2013 at 7:50 AM

      It’s amazing how often we have to state the obvious around here. And how that is “news”.

  2. Bob
    December 3, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    I’m going to say that the headline should read “fewer” instead of “less.” Because I am a fathomlessly tedious pedant.

    • Chris Howard
      December 4, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      Me too! My smugness keeps me warm in the winter, but itchy in the summer. ;-)

  3. ZombyWoof
    December 4, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    I remember when I was a little kid getting vaccinations in elementry school. They gave it to us in sugar cubes. I don’t know what disease it was for, it was the early 60’s. But kids loved it because it was sugary of course.

  4. December 4, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    Your 103 million figure only includes the US, and ignores the rest of the world human population. It also ignores the animal population. Chickens, dogs, cats, pigs, turkeys, cows, and other animals all get vaccine too.

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