CDC hits back: Vaccines do work and save hundreds of thousands of lives

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new report seemingly to promote that vaccines really do work and parents shouldn’t be skipping them.

From USA Today:

“Vaccines given to infants and young children over the past two decades will prevent 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccines also will have saved $295 billion in direct costs, such as medical expenses, and a total of more than $1.3 trillion in societal costs over that time, because children who were spared from sometimes-devastating illnesses will be able to contribute to society, the report shows. These calculations may underestimate the full impact of vaccines, the study notes, because authors considered only the early 14 routine childhood immunizations typically required for school entry. Authors didn’t include flu shots or adolescent vaccines given at ages 11 or 12….

Doubts about vaccines safety – and fading memories of vaccine-preventable diseases — have contributed to a resurgence of nearly forgotten diseases such as measles, which was officially declared eradicated in the USA in 2000. Numerous studies have debunked the notion that vaccines cause autism or other chronic diseases, says William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

“We have roomfuls of evidence” showing that vaccines are some of the safest medications available, Schaffner says, “but rumors and conspiracy theories still spread. Young parents today haven’t seen these disease, and they don’t respect and fear them.”

The USA Today story goes on to look at how measles, which were declared eradicated in the United States in 2000, have reappeared. The CDC reports that 129 people have come down with the measles in the U.S. in 13 outbreaks. It also looks at the outbreak of whooping cough across the U.S. with 5,634 patients infected.

In Arizona if the doctor even thinks you might have the whooping cough they have to report it, and the child is out of school for a week. Our pediatrician thought Lilina had it last year despite being vaccinated for it and she missed a week of school. She didn’t have it but Walsh did catch the whooping cough when we lived in Georgia. Our very old pediatrician knew instantly because he had heard the cough before when he was a new doctor and it was common. The story points out that a lot of pediatricians have never even seen a case of the measles or mumps because they have been gone for so long.

The CDC also points out how the federal Vaccines for Children program has eliminated racial and ethnic disparities among vaccines.

“…Today, the bulk of the unvaccinated children come from wealthy, educated families where parents intentionally choose not to immunize them, due to concerns about vaccine safety. These relatively wealthy children can then spread measles after returning from vacations in Europe, which has had large outbreaks for several years, Schaffner says.”

So what do you think: Should the CDC be doing more to promote the efficacy of vaccines? Should it take on the burden of proving to parents that vaccines are safe? Should there be a campaign to remind parents how awful it is for a child to have measles, whooping cough or polio? What should the CDC’s role be in convincing parents to vaccinate?

44 comments Add your comment

Hidden Agenda

April 24th, 2014
9:38 pm

I guess the deaths, autism, and neurological costs associated with vaccine reactions didn’t manage to make it into the study. Well, when you are a government agency working for the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry, you can’t let little things like adverse reactions get in the way of pushing profits.


April 24th, 2014
11:55 pm

Right, they didn’t make it into the study because the study only covers things based on evidence. The CDC doesn’t include the paranoid crackpot ravings of the mentally ill in their literature reviews.


April 25th, 2014
5:34 am

I think too many parents nowadays do not have a memory of “before vaccines.” I do. I would NEVER want to go back to that time!


April 25th, 2014
5:37 am

Yes they didn’t make it into the study because they are not scientific fact and this study only covers things that actually happen.

This is going to get really ugly real soon, I can already tell, so I think I will take the day off from this today. So I’ll leave with this: vaccinations are the greatest contributor to health and longer life span. Anyone that chooses not to see that should not be allowed to mingle in society and risk other people’s health.

Have a great weekend.


April 25th, 2014
5:44 am

I’m with catlady and mom2alex&max – See you Monday.


April 25th, 2014
6:35 am

Jenny McCarthy is the biggest threat to humans, after non-vaccinations.

hockey goalie

April 25th, 2014
6:36 am

Non-vaccinated kids shouldn’t be allowed in public schools. Most private schools already do this. It solves a lot:

a) dumbass parents retain the right to not vaccinate their kids; just home-school them

b) herd immunity stays intact for those kids that were unable (for health reasons) to be vaccinated early on

c) it effectively quarantines the little disease carriers and keeps them away from the rest of us

A better but far less realistic solution would be to just send DFCS after these non-vaxer parents for child endangerment since that’s effectively what it is.


April 25th, 2014
6:39 am

Cut and Paste is alive and well. She loves it and can’t migrate away from it.

Parents, if you are sending your child to UGA to major in journalism take note of what that school produces. A blog is suppose to be of original content – not cut and paste followed by “So what do you think?”

Theresa, please put some effort into the blog please.


April 25th, 2014
7:05 am

Don’t know if it should be the CDC, but wish someone or some group would step up and start actively advertising the horrible effects of not vaccinating. These parents (dumb-arses) that don’t vaccinate their children are putting all of our children at risk.
When I was pregnant I saw a video clip of a baby with whooping cough, it was the most horrible video I had ever seen. It is not just a cough that comes with a cold. It is uncontrollable. If a parent were trying to decide about vaccines and saw this, I would think it was sway them to do whatever necessary to prevent their children from becoming affected.
A big national ad campaign that shows parents the horrible diseases that they are putting their children at risk of seems like a way to get through to some people.


April 25th, 2014
7:24 am

I agree with @catlady and, with that, I’m out of here also. It’s Friday and I’m not in the mood to follow some of the comments I’m certain will be posted. Have a great weekend!!


April 25th, 2014
8:00 am

I believe in vaccines.

I saw this on the news, while on business, a few weeks ago. It is interesting:


April 25th, 2014
8:17 am

We have done the vaccine debate so many times in the past. It always gets ugly. I will check back on Monday.


April 25th, 2014
8:51 am

There are risks either way. If you get your children vaccinated, there IS a real possibility of adverse reaction. If you don’t, they are vulnerable to catching and spreading illness. Parents have to choose between two imperfect options.

After careful consideration, we had our kids vaccinated. We could have chosen not to since we homeschool them. I wasn’t entirely happy with the decision, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable skipping their vaccinations either.


April 25th, 2014
9:30 am

We didn’t even have to carefully consider the issue to know that vaccinations save lives. It’s scientific fact, and the anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy that are spreading dangerous lies should be ashamed of themselves. I would love to see study of how many kids who were not vaccinated due to their misinformation caught one of those diseases. They put all of us at risk.

I know all of the schools....

April 25th, 2014
9:37 am

…my kids attended, as well as UGA, made us show proof of vaccinations before they attended…


April 25th, 2014
10:06 am

Pre-preventative vaccines, my mom watched her sister DIE slowly of tetanus.


April 25th, 2014
10:07 am

I know…in the public schools you can get out of vaccinating.


April 25th, 2014
10:52 am

Spelman and GA Tech required proof of vaccination in the 90s. Not sure what they would have done had we not been vaccinated but I was good because I had been.

This topic gets too ugly for me too. Too many folks condemning others’ decisions. Even when I agree with the statement it makes me uncomfortable. Have a nice weekend. Hope your weather is nice. I think it might be Hades hot in Texas this weekend.


April 25th, 2014
10:55 am

This is timely. An Amish community has asked for measles shots due to an outbreak:

Amish don’t normally vaccinate; maybe this is their wakeup call as unfortunate as it is.

K's Mom

April 25th, 2014
1:14 pm

Yes schools “require” proof of vaccinations, but there is this handy, dandy little waiver called a Religious Exemption that public schools have to offer lest the ACLU get on their backs for not respecting an individual’s right to not vaccinate on the grounds of religious freedom. All of those who worship at the church of Jenny McCarthy and Rikki Lake have figured this out and sign them so that little Willow and Moondrop can go to public schools. It infuriates me. Anyone who does not vaccinate should be quarantined and made to home school.

We had an outbreak of pertussis in our community. We live in a college town and there is quite the anti-vax crowd here. My then 14month old was exposed and was up to date on his pertussis vaccinations to that age, but had not gotten all of them. He had to go on a round of antibiotics and we had to watch him very carefully. I wish all who choose not to vaccinate were required to spend a day with a child with pertussis.

I am a “whatever blows your dress up” when it comes to the parenting styles of others. I may roll my eyes if you are sanctimommy and judgmental on breast/bottle, natural childbirth/epidurals, work/stay at home, BUT not vaccinating directly affects the health of my kids and I have decided not to sit quietly and let herd immunity be destroyed.

K's Mom

April 25th, 2014
1:17 pm

Let me amend one of my points, those who choose not to vaccinate because they got a PhD from Google U should be quarantined. Those who are not able to vaccinate due to real health issues should be given the freedom to not live in fear of herd immunity being destroyed.


April 25th, 2014
1:23 pm

The AJC should be shamed for allowing this trash to be published. Allowing this kind of blog/article to appear in a news publication gives credibility to this “debate.”

Do you believe that vaccinations cause diseases? Trick question. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe it. You are either a fact denier or a fact acceptor.

Similarly, you can believe all day long that 2+2=5, but the world should not accept or respect your lunacy. Same thing here. Keep these anti-vaxxers where they belong: in a muzzle.


April 25th, 2014
3:14 pm

@ Richard…I believe autism is a disorder and not a disease:

“Do you believe that vaccinations cause diseases?”


April 25th, 2014
5:15 pm

Also, it puts teachers, some of them with immunity problems, at risk. I get really p***** when parents send very sick kids to school and then I get it and miss work. A few times I have had to be hospitalized.


April 25th, 2014
5:24 pm

My mom (who is in her mid 60’s) can still describe in complete detail the horrible sound her brother made when he contracted whooping cough. She would never have allowed us to risk catching that knowing that there was a way to prevent it. We were all vaccinated, and my kids are all vaccinated. There is a reason why we don’t fear these diseases anymore.

Of course, if you’re getting your medical advice from a Playboy Playmate, then you get what you deserve.

Enjoy the beautiful weekend!!


April 25th, 2014
5:38 pm

@irisheyes: I am in my late 30s and can describe that sound as well (my sister had it). NOT pretty. I honestly think my parents would have literally taken me to court if I had not vaccinated my children. (not that there was ever any chance I wouldn’t)


April 25th, 2014
6:51 pm

This topic pops up periodically because it creates a lot of clicks; although, it seems like the blog readers are a bit tired of the debate. Thus, the number of comments is somewhat low. Anyone who thinks there are not risks and adverse reactions needs to read the disclaimer notices in the sheet the doctor is supposed to give out. There are adverse reactions and that is a fact. How much and what type are up for debate. The CDC would get more compliance if they were more forthcoming and upfront about all of that.

The reduction in these illnesses are not just due to vaccines, but it is spun that way. Jenny McCarthy is being given too much “credit” for those choosing not to vaccinate. There are dozens of books out there written by doctors and medical professionals that discuss risks and benefits. Most parents I know who have chosen not to vaccinate have read pretty much every book out there on the topic. They are not following Jenny McCarthy and blaming her does nothing to resolve the issue. If the CDC and other policy makers want to increase compliance, they need to realize that.

There will always be exemptions allowed in states and public schools. Do you know why? Because the government wants the medical decision to be ultimately in the parents’ hands. If they allow exceptions, then they are “less responsible” if there is an adverse event or bad batch or whatever. If they force everyone 100%, they are the ultimate decision maker and the ultimate responsible party, whether it turns out good or bad. Giving the parent an “out” makes the officials less responsible legally. That is why you are not likely to see 100% mandatory vaccination of any kind in the United States.


April 25th, 2014
8:01 pm

Parents who didn’t vaccinate their children are now seeing their children dying from a preventable diseases. It is nature’s way of improving the species by killing off the stupid who believe more in anti-science conspiracy theories and right wing paranoia than in scientific facts.

If the kid wasn’t vaccinated, then public money should not be used to save their lives.


April 25th, 2014
8:44 pm

Many folks reduce this topic to simplistic terms. When you say that un-vaccinated children should not mingle with others, that is reducing the argument to one segment of the population and ignores all the other segments that pose similar risk. For example, for 5-10% of the population that gets the measles vaccine, the first dose of the vaccine does not work due to antibody immunity the baby has from their mother. These antibodies kill the vaccine. This is why a 2nd dose is given to catch all those where it wasn’t effective on the first round. So, do you advocate keeping that 5-10% of the vaccinated kids away from the rest of the population as well because they could catch and spread the disease? How do you know which kids fall into this category?

Also, people born before 1957 (those over age 56 or 57) did not typically have the MMR vaccine. You can’t assume they all have natural immunity. Do you plan to keep your kids away from all those people? Do you know which of your older relatives, parents, grandparents have had the illnesses or vaccines?

In addition, many vaccines wear off after a number of years. Have you updated your vaccines as adults? If you practice what you preach, the answer would be yes. The CDC says every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years. In addition, women should get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. How many of you are up to date on all of that?

Many of the recent outbreaks are related to persons from the U.S. who visited foreign countries and foreigners who traveled here. This should be the real area of most concern. How are we stopping or preventing viruses from coming into the U.S., including many viruses and diseases that we have no vaccine for? We have a global world with lots of travel across borders and a very weak system to prevent outbreaks.


April 25th, 2014
9:17 pm

@LeeH1 – Where are all these un-vaccinated children that you say are dying from preventable diseases? Your statement is not based on facts. There has not been a death from measles in the U.S. since 2003. In 2013, there were 24,231 cases of pertussis and 9 deaths (all infants < 3 months). This was a big drop in pertussis from 2012 (when there were 48,000 cases and 18 deaths). Some experts now believe that pertussis is cyclical over time, with cases going up in a predictable disease pattern. There has been a recent increase in some deaths in healthy teens, due mostly to the superbug issues. Why do people think that there are a lot of kids dying in the U.S. of measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc. (vaccinated or un-vaccinated. You can find all the exact numbers of cases and deaths on the CDC website. Any death of a child is tragic. But, 9 deaths out of 24,231 pertussis cases is extremely small.


April 25th, 2014
10:40 pm

There are 2 things doctors and scientists are looking at- one is the child is born with autism but it’s not noticible until about 2 and whether the parent(s) are carrying the gene. I know people who don’t vaccinate their children (probably becasue of the anti-vac going aorund). It’s scary- look at what is coming back because parents are choosing not to get their children vaccinated.


April 26th, 2014
2:02 pm

I would agree that non-vaccinated children should not be allowed in school. I don’t think it is fair to expose other children, and school staff, because of a parent’s viewpoint.

Mother of 2

April 26th, 2014
7:00 pm

Our pediatrician did a great job of educating me re: risk vs benefit of all types of vaccines. I think that pediatricians are actually on the front lines with respect to this issue and have the greatest ability to help parents navigate what is best for the health of their children.


April 27th, 2014
6:44 am

Mother of 2: my pediatrician won’t accept patients whose parents don’t consent to the vaccination schedule. Their policy is clearly spelled out and they said it was for the protection of ALL their patients. I think that might be a good way to go.


April 27th, 2014
11:13 am

How about some original topics for a change and not one that a follower sends to you? You really don’t care about this blog and it is showing.

mother of 2

April 27th, 2014
11:38 am

Mom2alex&max, I wonder if most pediatric practices have this policy.


April 27th, 2014
1:45 pm

Ann, I am one adult (almost 62) who DOES get the age-appropriate vaccines. I had measles and rubella as a child (and was very, very sick) but caught mumps the first year I taught. If there had been a vaccine available, I would have been spared that misery. I got the shingles vaccine as soon as I was eligible, and my early-teenaged daughter was the first kid in our county to get the chickenpox shot.

When my kids hit 15, before they could get their learner’s permit, I took them to the Health Department for their updates. The nurses were shocked–they said NO ONE comes back for those! How foolish! I also rushed all three to the HD for the MMR repeat when we had the outbreak in 1991 from so many parents not vaccinating.

I grew up when childhood polio was a terrible fear for parents. I remember visiting a neighbor and falling several times, and my parents’ terror that I was showing signs of developing it. I know people who contracted it and suffered terribly. How we cheered when the vaccine became available on a sugar cube when I was in 5th grade! I remember the happiness of the adults that it was available.

Yes, there may be some danger to getting vaccinated. There is some danger to every doggone thing we do each day, even when we do nothing. I think too many parents of today are inured to the terrible cost their child may pay if not vaccinated, since they have never seen or experienced illnesses like this themselves.

As I mentioned before, my mom watched her big sister (age 10 or so) die of lockjaw. It was agonizing, and nothing could be done (this would be around 1930). Her sister had suffered a compound fracture of the arm, which provided entryway into the body.

While I support parents making decisions about raising their children, their “rights” should stop when other people’s children could suffer devastating illnesses as a result.


April 27th, 2014
1:58 pm

mother of 2: I have NO idea. I want to think that most do, but I bet that’s not the case. Plus it is an easy ethical decision to make when you are located in a large metro area where parents have tons of choices, I bet it is not that simple when you are the only pediatrician in town.

Not PC

April 27th, 2014
3:33 pm

“This topic gets too ugly for me too. Too many folks condemning others’ decisions.”

When your devision threatens the health of my child (or the community at large), the I can condemn and judge you for those decisions. Tolerance is a yow way street. The US is becoming so individually self absorbed about rights and freedoms to do whatevery the heck they please it’s destroying our country.

K's Mom

April 28th, 2014
9:44 am

@Mother of 2 and @mom2alex&max, we are in a smaller community and I am not sure that our practice has a policy as a whole, but our pediatrician does not go along with not vaccinating and suggests that non-vax families find other care. I do not know know what our Atlanta pediatrician did, but I know her personal philosophy was “If you don’t trust my opinion on vaccines, why do you want me to treat your kid?’

@Not PC, I agree 100%. Do whatever you want until it endangers my kids and then your rights stop.


April 28th, 2014
3:36 pm

If vaccines actually work, then the vaccinated should not have to worry about the unvaccinated. Right? But of course vaccine effectiveness rates are very low overall and in some outbreaks, many of the ones getting sick have already been vaccinated. Refunds? Yeah, right.


April 30th, 2014
8:22 am

Go to one of the turn of the century (not this one) graveyards. See the kids’ tombstones who died in the late 1890s or early 1900s at the ages of 2 through 5. It might make you think. The un-vaccinated among us brings down the effectiveness. Herd mentality doesn’t always work.


May 1st, 2014
5:05 pm

@missnadine – As far as keeping unvaccinated children out of school to avoid exposing other kids – the problem with that is that vaccinated children can be carriers of those same diseases even when they do not have symptoms. So, you would pretty much have to keep all kids out of school, then.


May 1st, 2014
5:13 pm

For details on the prior statement, read this report on the FDA’s research study. It explains that while the pertussis vaccine can prevent “disease”, it does not necessarily prevent infection, thus vaccinated and un-vaccinated people can be carriers. It is important to read this article, as it explains the many reasons for the rise in pertussis. For some reason, media articles tend to spin it as related to the increase population of unvaccinated, when research shows otherwise. See this FDA article