Anti-Vaxxers Take Note: Vaccines Have Prevented 100 Million Serious Childhood Diseases In U.S. Since 1888

VaccinationPublicly launched earlier this
week, Project Tycho has
assembled data on contagious disease rates in the United States
since 1888. The non-profit effort is named after astronomer Tycho
Brahe whose careful observations enabled Johannes Kepler to figure
out the orbits of planets in our solar system. Based on the data, a
in The New England Journal of Medicine
estimates that over 100 million cases of serious childhood
illnesses have been prevented in the U.S. since 1924 by vaccination
programs against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A,
diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

The Washington Post

What emerges is a detailed picture of how 56 infectious diseases
have affected the American landscape since the late 19th century —
and what interventions have proved most effective in stopping them.
By comparing reported outbreaks of polio, smallpox and other
diseases with the dates when vaccines for each came into use,
researchers were able to document the life-saving role those drugs

“We saw these very abrupt declines of incidence rates across the
country,” said lead author Willem G. van Panhuis, assistant
professor of epidemiology at the university’s Graduate School of
Public Health, known as Pitt Public Health. Ultimately, he and his
co-authors estimated that the introduction of vaccines had helped
prevent 100 million cases of serious childhood diseases, a
figure they said is worth remembering during a time when critics
have raised questions about the necessity of vaccines.

“We really hope this will ignite debate about the use of
vaccinations, and that it will provide a new piece of evidence,”
van Panhuis said. “We hope this will give this whole discussion a
new dimension.”

Although the NEJM article did not estimate the number
of deaths avoided through vaccination, the New York Times


Dr. Donald S. Burke, the dean of Pittsburgh’s graduate school of
public health and an author of the medical journal article, said
that a reasonable projection of prevented deaths based on known
mortality rates in the disease categories would be three million to
four million.

The scientists said their research should help inform the debate
on the risks and benefits of vaccinating American children.

Pointing to the research results, Dr. Burke said, “If you’re
anti-vaccine, that’s the price you pay.”

For more background on the relative safety of vaccines see my
post, “For
Pete’s Sake, Go Get Your Kids Vaccinated Already!
” And until
you can control your own infectious disease vectors so that they
don’t harm anyone else, don’t bother asserting that it’s your
“right” to endanger others. See also, Harm

from Hit & Run

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