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 of vaccines.
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:
“During 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.
“The trend 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 practice.” 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:
“The conquest 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.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.
Conventional 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.
However, except 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.
Diphtheria, tetanus, 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.” 
“There was 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 events.” The author’s 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 perception.
Thomas McKeown, 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.
“The distinguished 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.” Another author 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.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?
Tuberculosis 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 million.
Scarlet fever 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.
After centuries 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).” 
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.
Simple statements 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.
The CDC’s 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.