24 thoughts on “Vaccines work: By the numbers

  1. It bears repeating that the 2 million lives saved on this diagram does not show the full picture.

    200 million needed to be vaccinated in order to achieve this result. This does not point out the costs, nor that much more than 2 million others have various autoimmune and other diseases and disorders whose incidence rate correlates highly with vaccination and there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER TO SUGGEST that other problems are not caused by immunization at higher rates than this.

    2 million lives saved of 200 million is 1%. Things like seat belts save more lives than that with zero side effects. So I don’t agree this is the best thing since sliced bread.

    THERE ARE RISKS – every time you mess with nature THERE ARE SIDE EFFECTS and immunization is no different, just harder to track!

    Because these immune effects happen slowly over longer periods of time and the immunized population is so large and diverse you can’t easily tell what the side effects are. But when you have to apply any treatment to the entire population THIS IS DANGEROUS.

    Why do you not see that?

    • Unfortunately your argument that seat belts have no side effects is completely false. Seat belts cause a range of injuries and in any serious car accident, one should expect to be injured by the seat belt. The reason people should wear them is that in the event of a collision the odds of surviving are about double. Seat belts have also unfortunately strangled children and are not quite as harmless as you seem to believe.

      Making such a false claim about something like that weakens your entire argument and makes you look ignorant.

      It is also UNNECESSARY to use ALL CAPS to MAKE your POINT.

  2. I just want to emphasize that no matter how you proponents try to present and skew this data, the facts remain that


    of the population and requires

    RISK TO 90%

    of the population to achieve.


    • Just curious, where is your evidence to your numbers, gaffe?? consider me new and curious and someone who has yet to make a stance (I am not the author of this article, just someone who stopped by). Give me an informed, rational and scientific opinion.

      • Ok, here it is in more detail:

        According to this study:

        there was “1 death for every 420 children vaccinated” prevented.

        Basic math tells you that this is a 0.23% rate of effectiveness for it’s intended purpose.

        According to this:

        There were 134million people vaccinated against the flu recently. And that is just one vaccine, the flu.

        Over 99% of these people did not need it, and were exposed to possible harm. Note I said possible, not proven.

        There is always some amount of risk. We don’t know how much, but we know that even if the risk/harm is minimal, affecting only about 0.23% of the population it outweighs the rewards because over a billion dollars is spent on these vaccinations (don’t ask me for a reference, just use math – multiply $10 a dose, per costs listed here http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/awardees/vaccine-management/price-list/index.html
        times 134 million people).

        I don’t know of too many medical treatments that have such an awesome safety record that there are no problems at all in less than 1/4% of cases, do you? So, while we lacking better data, it is not reasonable to assume this treatment is any different?

        I’m not sure which part of these facts or evidence are in dispute here when people keep saying I need to present more evidence. Is it the math or the source of the data that everyone here is not agreeing with?

        I kind of thought it was obvious the vaccines rely on the principle of vaccinating many to prevent just a few deaths.

        Clearly many others don’t see the risks involved in such an approach, but I still don’t get why not.

        Proving something kills you and there being a RISK of something going wrong are two different things. I didn’t say I could prove it. By the time anyone can prove it it will be too late, don’t you think?

  3. From the CDC website:

    More serious problems have been reported by about 1 person in 100, within 6 months of vaccination. These problems included:

    blood in the urine or stool
    inflammation of the stomach or intestines

    And that is for a single vaccine.

    So from the looks of the released data, for each life saved it probably killed someone else.

    When you look up vaccine rare side effects (to find ones affecting 1% of the population) all you find is stuff like:

    “We did not find studies that were sound enough to consider to making any kind of judgement on that association,” said Dr. S. Claiborne Johnston, a committee member and professor of neurology and epidemiology at UC, San Francisco.

    Not confidence instilling at all. So, no one funded research into this at all, or is it being buried/suppressed. One would think that for something we do to almost everyone in the population we should have a bit more data than this?

    • So, reading comprehension and science don’t seem to be your strong points. The CDC says that 1 in 100 people had blood in their urine or stool, pneumonia or inflammation of the stomach or intestines. Please look again and find where these people then died. I’ve actually had all 3 of those things (not anytime within 6 months of vaccines) and I’m alive and well (and can even read!), so I’m kind of confused.

      It is people like you, who do not understand science, who spout facts that are obviously untrue and pulled from no where, that have resulted in a resurgence of these diseases. Vaccines are created to protect us from disease and they do a great job of doing just that. They come with risks, but virtually every scientist in this country agrees that the benefits far outweigh the risks. Find me one quality, unbiased, scientific study that shows that vaccines are more dangerous than beneficial and we can have a real discussion. Creating your own data and shouting it at people is just nonsense and it’s dangerous, too.

    • “More serious problems have been reported by about 1 person in 100, within 6 months of vaccination. These problems included:..”

      The quote from the CDC website you cherry-picked has the following sentences which contradicts your (mis)interpretation:

      “It is not clear whether these mild or serious problems were caused by the vaccine or occurred after vaccination by chance.

      As with all vaccines, adenovirus vaccine will continue to be monitored for unexpected or severe problems.”

      Wow, anti-vaxxers are good at misleading people!

      • I guess we have different interpretations of “It is not clear whether these mild or serious problems were caused by the vaccine or occurred after vaccination by chance.”

        To you that reads “so it’s safe”

        and to me it reads “so they have no idea therefore it’s probably dangerous”.

        I guess I’m just more conservative with people’s lives than you are, but you have a right to your opinion.

      • Gaffe,

        you make too many unsubstantiated or flat out false assumptions about adenovirus vaccine.

        “So from the looks of the released data, for each life saved it probably killed someone else.”

        Which data? If you don’t support this statement by a study, then you’re just flat out making stuff up and fearmongering. The CDC site you quote does not mention death or mortality anywhere, nor does it reference any study or dataset for the side effects mentionned. Here’s the monography on the new oral vaccine, which is only given to military personnel, and the side-effect profile looks good (hint: no one died by the vaccine).


        On the other hand, adenovirus DOES kill, extremely rarely but it does.


        Fortunately, the vaccine is very effective at preventing adenovirus.


        So, who’s more conservative with people’s lives again?

    • So you’ve come onto a blog that is aimed towards medical professionals of varying degrees and people with a higher knowledge of the science behind medicine, with no evidence, and no real stand point beyond fear mongering.

      Uh huh, good luck with that.

  4. Gaffe,

    Ted wondered where the numbers in your original posts here came from. You don’t seem to have answered him. Can we assume that you simply made them up? Or is there some other reason you have failed to answer Ted’s question?

    In your reply to Ted you entirely failed to provide evidence for your original claims but did make a brand-new, unsubstantiated claim: “for each life saved it probably killed someone else”. This is a remarkable claim and is not supported by any evidence whatsoever. We have absolutely no reason to believe it – it is implausible and it is unsupported by evidence.

    If you cannot or will not support the claims you make here then I for one will not believe them. Particularly when they are as unlikely as the one I quote in this post.

  5. I have yet to see any substantial evidence to support the assertion that the side effects one might experience following a vaccination translate into “for each life saved, it probably killed someone else.”

    Moreover, one can easily explain the correlation — if such a statistic actually exists — between autoimmune disorders (or any other disease state or condition that takes decades to manifest clinically) and vaccination rates: individuals who would have died of vaccine-preventable diseases (probably in childhood) actually lived long enough to develop the diseases for which they were already genetically predisposed… but again, correlation does not mean causation.

  6. The US population is roughly 4x greater now than in 1900, so these disease numbers would be even greater now.

    Most likely they’d be more than 4x larger due to increased urbanization and increased mobility of the population.

  7. Gaffe says “This does not point out the costs, nor that much more than 2 million others have various autoimmune and other diseases and disorders whose incidence rate correlates highly with vaccination and there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER TO SUGGEST that other problems are not caused by immunization at higher rates than this.”

    This is not how logic works. If you wish to win an argument, you must provide the evidence that vaccines cause autoimmune disease. Asserting it, alleging it through supposed correlation is insufficient. If you cannot, you are simply spouting irrational fears…as most anti-vaxxers do.

    • You all keep suggesting that logic dictates we do something dangerous then say “until you can prove exactly how it kills you we can claim it has no risks”. The problem is I don’t agree that premise is logical.

      I believe we should have some basis for believing something is safe before recommending that the entire population subject themselves to it.

      It isn’t “fear” to point out that you are doing something dangerous and the odds of something unfortunate happening are high when you engage in high risk activities.

      Any medical professional who thinks performing medical procedures on the entire population is not a high risk activity I think is reckless, and the only thing I am afraid of here is people like this influencing policy makers into making bad decisions.

      As I said, I cannot prove every vaccine’s various side effects. That would require millions of dollars and long term research.

      But I can give you a few specific recent examples you all asked for:

      Flu Vaccine causing narcolepsy proven:

      Lymerix Vaccine causing chronic neurological impairment with sufficient evience that it was pulled from the market:

      I would especially like to draw your attention to the first example, here is the reuters article about it:

      especially note the following:

      Stiernstedt, director for health and social care at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, helped coordinate the vaccination campaign across Sweden’s 21 regions.

      The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the 2009-2010 pandemic killed 18,500 people, although a study last year said that total might be up to 15 times higher.

      While estimates vary, Stiernstedt says Sweden’s mass vaccination saved between 30 and 60 people from swine flu death. Yet since the pandemic ended, more than 200 cases of narcolepsy have been reported in Sweden.

      With hindsight, this risk-benefit balance is unacceptable. “This is a medical tragedy,” he said. “Hundreds of young people have had their lives almost destroyed.”

      The only thing I am “afraid” of is that we have not learned any lesson from this incident and much worse things are coming.

      The fact that this vaccine was a mistake isn’t my point. Mistakes happen and people die all the time. My point is that there are absolutely no preventative measures in place to prevent things like this (only even more serious) from happening in the future.

      • I’m confused. You point to vaccine safety monitoring systems that identified an adverse event associated with a particular brand of a vaccine as your evidence that there isn’t a safety monitoring system for vaccines?

      • A monitoring system that identifies a safety issue after it already caused serious harm isn’t a method of preventing problems. If you vaccinate everyone and 30 years later we all die, it won’t do any good to say oh, well oops!

        Isn’t it great we had this system in place to find out what went wrong?

        It’s a little late don’t you think?

        For most medical treatments systems like this make sense because you don’t affect large parts of the population. So you find out something is doing harm then you stop doing it.

        But in the case of vaccines that does not work, so there should be a higher standard for preventative safety measures. That’s what I am saying.

      • And I didn’t say there isn’t a safety monitoring system. I said “there are absolutely no PREVENTATIVE measures in place”.

        Safety monitoring is not preventative, it’s reactive. And not useful for preventative style treatments that affect large groups at once.

        I’m not saying that system is useless, at least now we know, but it is too little, too late.

  8. Instead of comparing statistics from one year to statistics from one centuary, wouldn’t it be more accurate to compare (i.e. compare 1910 to 2010).

    Unless the 1900’s value is a yearly average.

    Btw I’ve no sympathy for the anti-vaccine lot. Just a minor criticism.

  9. @ Gaffe, the monitoring system follows extensive and usually very large pre-approval phase clinical trials that demonstrate safety. Safety is a relative term because risks are weighed against benefits, as they should be. Post- market monitoring allows for very rare side-effects to be discovered and evaluated because much larger populations can be studied, involving hundreds of thousands or millions of people, while not withholding clinically proven life-saving (or misery and disability-reducing) vaccinations.

    The Pandemrix flu vaccine was shown to likely cause (at least in part) an increase in narcolepsy risk among children in Finland and Sweden. This indicates that the monitoring system was working (and improvements are being made worldwide to these systems). Pandemrix was never used in the US (because of more stringent standards for the use of adjuvants, which should be reassuring to Americans).

    And, the increased narcolepsy risk, while not trying to minimize its importance, should be put into perspective: it was still very rare. The background narcolepsy rate in children before the vaccine was .00002, while the risk to vaccinated children was determined to be about .00025. A “13-fold risk increase” to a tiny number is still a very small number — especially if the pandemic had taken off, because it’s always about risk versus benefits.

    Because the pandemic ended up being lighter than some anticipated, the increased narcolepsy risk appeared more devastating. But it’s pretty hard to predict the outcome of a flu epidemic. Kind of like predicting earthquakes, in my opinion. You want to be prepared for the big one even if a big one hasn’t hit in ages. If the pandemic had been catastrophic, parents would have been livid if a vaccine had been withheld because of a rare narcolepsy risk. Vaccines save lives and prevent disabilities. Good article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2013-02-27-swine-flu-jab-narcolepsy-risk-is-very-small/

    • Sorry but I posted the narcolepsy rates backwards: The rate of narcolepsy among vaccinated children was estimated to be about .00002, while the background risk was estimated, on the low end, to be .00025.

  10. Gaffe makes an error that many anti-vaxers make: he focuses only on deaths.Vaccines are not designed to prevent deaths; they are designed to prevent catching an illness. The benefits of that go far beyond lower numbers of deaths, such as reduced permanent injury and disability, and there are huge benefits to society from reduced visits to doctors and hospitalizations to lower costs from time taken off to care for those who are sick. These benefits far outweigh the minimal risks. Study after study has shown that the risks from vaccines are orders of magnitude lower than the risks from catching the illness in question (a ratio that Gaffe, again like many anti-vaxers exaggerates); together with the benefits to society as a whole, the cost/benefit analysis is firmly in the corner of vaccination.

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