Study: Vaccines have prevented 100 million infections over past 80 years

The New York Times “Bits” blog reported that, according to a recent University of Pittsburgh study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, vaccination programs have prevented over 100 million serious contagious disease cases among US children since 1924. By analyzing disease reports from before and after vaccines became commercially available, researchers noted a decline in disease reports after vaccines were licensed and widely distributed.

The Washington Post reports that Dr. Willem G. van Panhuis, an epidemiologist at Pittsburgh and lead author of the journal article, said, “We really hope this will ignite debate about the use of vaccinations, and that it will provide a new piece of evidence. We hope this will give this whole discussion a new dimension.”

The medical journal article notes the recent resurgence of some diseases as some parents have resisted vaccinating their children. For example, the worst whooping cough epidemic since 1959 occurred last year, with more than 38,000 reported cases nationwide.