In 1949, the DTP
vaccine was licensed to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis
(whooping cough) issuing forth the modern use of vaccines
in the prevention of childhood illnesses. Polio immunization
was later introduced to prevent that dread disease. In 1963,
the measles vaccine was licensed and was combined with mumps
and rubella toxoids to create the MMR vaccine.
In more recent
times the hepatitis B and chickenpox vaccines have been developed
and incorporated into our health care system. Now a child
can expect to receive up to 33 vaccines during his or her
childhood with more vaccines on the horizon, such as herpes
zoster (shingles), West Nile virus, influenza, pneumococcal,
HIV and many more.
The belief that
vaccines are safe and effective is pervasive in today’s
society. The vast majority of the medical, public and government
communities have a well-established belief system in the benefits
Unlike almost any
other health-related issue in the free world, governments
mandate many vaccines for the theoretical public good. In
the United States, all 50 states require a large number of
vaccinations before children are allowed to attend public
schools or day care centers.
Although most states
have religious and medical exemptions, with some having a
philosophical exemption, public and medical officials exert
a great deal of pressure to vaccinate. The pervasive attitude
that plagues will return and ravage the western world without
everyone giving their child a full set of vaccinations is
a powerful force in modern society.
One of the chief
concepts that vaccine proponents tell us, and that we generally
believe in modern society, is that the use of vaccines is
responsible for the virtual elimination of many childhood
scourges that used to ravage the world. We are told, and assume,
that in the 1800s and early in the 1900s many diseases killed
a large number of people and that vaccines were invented and
stopped these diseases from being a threat. But is this in
fact the case?
On the face of
it, we cannot help but assume that vaccines have played a
key role in improving all of our lives. But looking carefully
at the evidence over a longer period of time reveals a different
picture of disease evolution and the role vaccines have played.
A review of "Childhood’s
Deadly Scourge" states:
the last two decades of the 19th century diphtheria was
the leading cause of death of toddlers in the industrialized
world, in some cities killing more than a thousand in a
single year. In contrast, since 1980 fewer than 100 cases
have been reported in the entire United States. Although
diphtheria is hardly the only infectious disease to have
thus faded, its story is unique because the early period
of its decline can be directly linked to advances in bacteriologic
knowledge and practice. Between 1880 and 1930 health authorities
in New York City were responsible for much of the practical
innovation in the control of diphtheria, as well as a good
share of scientific progress." 
The Vital Statistics
of the United States contains compiled statistics for a wide
variety of information since early in the 1900s. Among those
are death rates from all diseases, including infectious diseases.
An introductory statement from the 1937 statistics indicates
that death rates from infectious diseases declined greatly
in the early part of the century. These declines occurred
well before the advent of vaccines to treat these conditions.
in death rates for specific causes, over the past 20 or
30 years, may be characterized by two general statements.
In the first place, there has been a great reduction in
the death rates for infectious and preventable diseases;
in the second place, there has been an increase in the rates
for certain diseases characteristic of older ages. Greatest
proportional rate decreases have taken place for such diseases
as typhoid and parathyroid fever, which has declined from
a rate of 23.5 in 1910 to 2.1 in 1937; and diphtheria, which
declined from a rate of 21.4 in 1910 to 2.0 in 1937. ...
The rate reductions for infectious and preventable diseases
can be largely attributed to the development of modern public-health
From these figures,
we can see that death rates from typhoid decreased by 91 percent
from 1910 to 1937 and death rates from diphtheria declined
by 90.5 percent during the same time period. The decrease
in diphtheria occurred well before the use of vaccination.
An even more recent
editorial statement from the Journal of Pediatrics states
that proper sanitation was largely responsible for the early
large declines in infectious diseases.
" ... The
largest historical decrease in morbidity and mortality caused
by infectious disease was experienced not with the modern
antibiotic and vaccine era, but after the introduction of
clean water and effective sewer systems." 
Again, in a 2001
paper in the Journal of Infection Control:
of infectious disease and the health revolution it initiated
is arguably one of the greatest achievements of Western
civilization. Yet the phenomenon is largely unknown and
rarely taught, even in history courses.
wisdom usually assumes that conquest of infectious disease
can be credited to well-known lifesaving innovations in
medicine such as vaccines, antibiotics, and surgical asepsis.
These icons are truly essential ingredients of modern medicine,
and their contribution to human life and health in this
century can never be minimized.
for the smallpox vaccination, which was introduced in 1798
and made compulsory in England in 1853, the overall contribution
of medical innovations to the health revolution of the 1800s
is difficult to validate.
and pertussis vaccine arrived on the scene only after disease
mortality rates already had been reduced significantly;
measles, rubella, and polio vaccines did not become available
until the middle of the 20th century, when most infant deaths
were the result of other causes. The same holds true for
sulfa drugs and antibiotics. Their contribution is unequivocal,
but they did not affect mortality rates until the 1940s."
Another paper published
in the medical journal The Lancet in 1977 by the Department
of Community Medicine in the United Kingdom also indicates
that vaccines were not responsible for the decline in disease
rates in that country.
a continuous decline [whooping cough deaths], equal in each
sex, from 1937 onward. Vaccination, beginning on small scale
in some places around 1948 and on a national scale in 1957,
did not affect the rate of decline if it be assumed that
one attack usually confers immunity, as in most major communicable
diseases of childhood. ... The steady decline of whooping
cough between 1930 and 1957 is predictive of a linear exponential
decay characteristic of a general and progressive lessening
in the volume and spread of infection among the susceptible
population. With this pattern well established before 1957,
there is no evidence that vaccination played a major role
in the decline in incidence and mortality in the trend of
conclusion that "there is no evidence that vaccination
played a major role in the decline in incidence and mortality"
is quite monumental and far different than the general public
professor of social medicine in the University of Birmingham
Medical School between 1950 and 1978, is still regarded as
a major social philosopher of medicine, and is known for his
important works in epidemiology and the practice and purpose
of medicine. His conclusion was also that diseases
were declining well before medical interventions such as vaccinations
came into standard use.
epidemiologist Thomas McKeown (1912-1988) maintained that
reductions in deaths associated with infectious diseases
(air-, water-, and food-borne diseases) cannot have been
brought about by medical advances, since such diseases were
declining long before effective means were available to
combat them." 
shows that disease and mortality was falling before the advent
of vaccines or drug therapies:
" ... In
1869 there were 716 deaths from typhus in London; by 1885
this had been reduced to 28; and at the beginning of the
20th century there was none. Similar declines could be given
for other infectious diseases.
began a remarkable disappearing act. Killing perhaps 500
out of every 100,000 Europeans in 1845, consumption slowly
but continuously sank to 50 per 100,000 by 1950. Curative
medicine played little part in that transition. The disappearance
began before Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus.
By the time antibiotics
entered the picture, TB in cities such as New York had fallen
to eleventh place in the death lists. And the mortality
graphs for most of Europe’s fatal crowd diseases all
dived before antibiotics had been marketed. Whooping cough
killed 1400 children out of every million in 1850, but one
hundred years later whooping deaths were less than 10 per
behaved in the same way. Measles, typhus, pneumonia, dysentery
and polio all share similar histories. Their retreat had
a dramatic impact on the European population. By 1900 civilization
had lost its biological population check: infectious disease.
of hostile encounters, humans and microbes found a new adjustment
with little interference from drugs or vaccines. In some
cases the microbe became less virulent (measles and diphtheria)
or the human host more resistant (tuberculosis)." 
In the view of
this, how can the statements made by the CDC on how "thanks
to vaccines" diseases are a thing of the past be correct?
Back in 1924 Mark
Twain was quoted as saying, "There are three kinds of
lies -- lies, damned lies, and statistics." When Mark
Twain made this statement, his point was that numbers could
be manipulated by the unscrupulous to misrepresent facts,
to justify a particular bias, or fulfill a particular agenda.
It is an unhappy
fact of modern life that anyone with an idea can support that
idea with statistics. The less the public knows about the
source of the statistics, the more possible it is to have
misinformation posing as scientific results.
such as "in the 1920s, over 10,000 people a year died
from diphtheria," although accurate are very misleading.
Providing a piece of historical fact without any real context
and mixing it with statements on how vaccines helped cure
these diseases leads the reader to erroneously conclude that
vaccines were instrumental in the massive declines of deaths
from these diseases.
statements on vaccines only provide a few facts and then draw
a conclusion on this limited information. To understand the
role of vaccines, we must use the raw information and analyze
it over a long period of time.
Please be sure
and go to the site below and view all the graphs that support
the evidence cited above.
Morman, E.T., "Childhood’s Deadly Scourge: The
Campaign to Control Diphtheria in New York City, 1880-1930",
The Journal of the American Medical Association, April 12,
2000 Vol. 283, p. 1889
Vital Statistics of the United States 1937 Part I, U.S.
Department of the Census, 1939, p. 11
"Zinc, diarrhea, and pneumonia (editorial)", The
Journal of Pediatrics, December 1999, Vol. 135, No. 6, p.
Greene, Velvl W., PhD, MPH, "Personal hygiene and life
expectancy improvements since 1850: Historic and epidemiologic
associations", American Journal of Infection Control
(AJIC), August 2001, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 203-206
Steward, Gordon T., "Vaccination Against Whooping-Cough
Efficacy Versus Risks", The Lancet, January 29, 1977,
Porter, Roy, "The Greatest Benefit to Mankind",
Harper Collins Publishers, 1997, p. 426
Porter, Roy, "The Greatest Benefit to Mankind",
Harper Collins Publishers, 1997, p. 427
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