Public trust in vaccines have been waning and many are choosing to opt-out. But the science is solid—vaccines work, and here’s the unarguable data.

Growing up in rural Utah and in the homeschool community has lead to a bit of an echo-chamber. Although I’m not anti-vaccine, most of the people with whom I associate are, and many take action against the medical practice. In a way, I can understand their position, vaccines have caused negative and sometimes disastrous side effects in the past. For example, in 1948, the improper production of a diphtheria vaccine in Japan lead to the Kyoto Disaster, an event that would ultimately claim the lives of 68 children. The Cutter Incident and 1999 withdrawal of the rotavirus vaccine were equally alarming.

An anti-vaccine movement was present during those disastrous events and was even prominent when Edward Jenner successfully pioneered the world’s first immunization. However, it isn’t 1948 that is witnessing an extremely large, growing anti-vaccine movement: it’s 2019. According to a recent study from PLOS Medicine, rates of nonmedical exemptions are dramatically rising among younger children. This information supports what NBC News reported in 2018, that public support for vaccination has dropped over the past 10 years. But, the rising anti-vaccine presence and aforementioned disastrous events—despite how frightening—and do not prove the anti-immunization movement to be correct. The truth is this: vaccines work, the medical treatment is extremely safe and effective. So, this is the first of a series of articles articulating the befits of vaccination and disproving common anti-vaccine arguments and myths.

For a purely empirical view on the medical practice, here are the numbers of diseases recorded in an early decade, contrasted with decease numbers in a later decade after a vaccine was introduced. The drop in cases is incredible:

Measles cases (U.S.): In the 1950s, there were 5,487,332 recorded cases of the highly-contagious disease. The first measles vaccine was licensed in 1963 (it was added to help form the MMR vaccine in 1971). In the 2000s, there were 777 recorded cases.

Polio cases (U.S.): In the 1940s, there were 173,680 recorded cases of the disease. The first polio vaccine was licensed in 1955. In the 2000s there was only one recorded case.

Diphtheria cases (U.S.):  In the 1950s, there were 23,750 recorded cases of diphtheria. In 1996, diphtheria was combined into the DTaP vaccine (along with tetanus and pertussis). In the 2000s, there were only five recorded cases.

Tetanus cases (U.S.): In the 1950s, there were 4,773 recorded cases of tetanus. In 1996, tetanus was combined into the DTaP vaccine (along with diphtheria and pertussis). In the 2000s, there were 284 recorded cases.

Varicella (chickenpox) cases (U.S.): In the 1980s, there were 1,911,427 recorded cases of the disease. The first varicella vaccine was licensed in 1995. In the 2000s, there were 292,065 recorded cases.

Smallpox cases (World-wide): In the 1940s, there were 2,840,723 recorded cases of  the disease. In 1949, the U.S. made huge improvements with vaccination, the CDC began a worldwide smallpox eradication campaign in 1966, focusing on Africa, and the World Health Organization put themselves behind a global immunization campaign. By 1980 smallpox was officially eradicated.

Pertussis (whooping cough) deaths (U.S.): In the 1950s, there were 4,476 recorded deaths from pertussis. In 1996, pertussis was combined into the DTaP vaccine (along with diphtheria and tetanus). In the 2000s, there were 158 recorded deaths.

Rubella deaths (U.S.): In the 1960s, there were 200 recorded deaths due to the disease. The first rubella vaccine was licensed in 1969 (it was added to help form the MMR vaccine in 1971). In the 2000s, there were only six recorded deaths.

CRS (Congenital Rubella Syndrome) defects (U.S.): Between 1964-1965, a rubella epidemic occurred. According to History of Vaccines: “Twenty thousand children were born with CRS: 11,000 were deaf, 3,500 blind, and 1,800 mentally retarded. There were 2,100 neonatal deaths and more than 11,000 abortions…” In 1969, the first rubella vaccine was licensed (it was added to help form the MMR vaccine in 1971). In the 2000s, there were 20 recored deaths due to CRS.   

Mumps deaths (U.S.): In 1960s, there were 394 recorded deaths due to the disease. The first mumps vaccine was licensed in 1967 (it was added to help form the MMR vaccine in 1971). In the 2000s, there were only eight recorded deaths.

The numbers don’t lie, vaccinations directly cause disease cases and deaths to dramatically plunge. The growing anti-immunization movement comes from a somewhat understandable position, but isn’t correct. So, what’s the best way to flush out misinformation? The truth. And that’s what this article, and the coming series, is meant to do. Replace misinformation with facts and science. Vaccines work, and the medical treatment is extremely safe and effective.

What do YOU think about vaccination? Is this evidence convincing, or do you disagree? How has vaccination effected your life? Is there a specific vaccination-related issue or topic you’d like to see covered in this series? Share your thoughts in the comments below!! I’d love to hear from you.