Anti-vaccination activists really irritate me. They make alarmist claims based on little or no science (or worse, based on pseudoscience), and enough people believe them that they fail to vaccinate their children against very preventable diseases. Yes, like any other medical therapy, there can be complications from vaccinations and even a few rare fatalities. However, by almost any measure the risk-benefit ratio is tilted so far in favor of routine vaccination for the common diseases we vaccinate against that in the vast majority of cases it requires resorting to fallacious arguments and evidence even to try to argue otherwise.
Yesterday, the New England Journal of Medicine
published yet another piece of evidence supporting the efficacy of childhood vaccination. Doing a retrospective analysis of mortality data, Nguyen et al
showed that, since the start of universal vaccination against varicella (the virus that causes chickenpox) in 1995, yearly deaths due to varicella in the U.S. in 2001 plummeted by almost 2/3. This decline occurred not just in children but in adults under age 50, as well.