Anti-Vaccination groups often use graphs to supposedly demonstrate that vaccines are not responsible for declines in diseases. Such claims are grossly misleading and show a misunderstanding of the impact of vaccines and other factors in the decline of diseases.
The major problems with graphs used by anti-vaccination groups are:
Mortality (Deaths) Vs Morbidity (Cases)
Graphs used by Anti-vaccination sites are almost exclusively mortality graphs, and rightly show that deaths from diseases often fell before widespread vaccination. This is a reflection of improved hygiene, standards of living, medical care and medication. What these graphs don’t show is how many children suffered permanent disability from these diseases, the pain and suffering of the victims and their families or the time and cost to the community of extended hospital stays and neonatal intensive care beds to save these children. For example, for every infant that dies from whooping cough there will be 10 who contract pneumonia, and another 10 who sustain fractured ribs due to coughing fits. So while it’s wonderful that deaths have fallen, it’s important to realise that it’s not a black and white issue. These diseases continue to cause great suffering for those unfortunate enough to contract them.
While deaths from many diseases were already in decline, the same cannot be said for the number of cases of these diseases and the number of children who suffered them but eventually survived. It is here where the incredible impact of vaccination is most obvious. Although, there are examples of particularly dangerous diseases (such as Polio) where the immediate fall in mortality is also obvious.
Graphs used by anti-vaccination groups are rarely supplied with accurate information on the source of the data, making verification difficult if not impossible. In cases where they do supply this information, the graphs are often found to be highly inaccurate, such as that exposed in this article.
This page will be updated as more data comes to hand. You can click each graph for a larger version. You are free to use and distribute these graphs so long as they are not altered.
(USA) Notice that while deaths fell as standards of living improved, the number of cases did not.
(Australia) Note that measles morbidity was increasing with huge epidemics in 1994 and 1995, before the second dose of MMR was added. 1998 saw the commencement of the Australian Measles Control Campaign. Since then, measles cases have fallen by over 90%, and endemic measles has been eliminated from Australia.
A deadly, rapid-onset bacterial infection. After a constant climb before vaccination, cases and rates of meningococcal have fallen by over 50% since vaccination commenced in 2002.
Another deadly, rapid-onset bacterial infection. Cases of Invasive Pneumococcal have fallen considerably since widespread vaccination commenced in January 2005. Unfortunately, the Australian database does not show statistics prior to 2001 for this disease.
Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib):
A bacterial infection that had an average of over 500 cases and 10-15 child deaths every year in Australia, before vaccination commenced in 1993. Since then, cases have fallen by over 95%, and there have been no fatalities since 1999.
Polio was effectively wiped out by vaccination.