Thursday, April 27, 2017

Vaccination reduces death rates for children

Effect of vaccination programmes on mortality burden among children and young adults in the Netherlands during the 20th century: a historical analysis
Maarten van Wijhe,
, Scott A McDonald, PhD
, Hester E de Melker, PhD
, Prof Maarten J Postma, PhD
, Prof Jacco Wallinga, PhD
Published: 09 February 2016


In the 20th century, childhood mortality decreased rapidly, and vaccination programmes are frequently suggested as a contributing factor. However, quantification of this contribution is subject to debate or absent. We present historical data from the Netherlands that allow us to quantify the reduction in childhood mortality burden for vaccine-preventable diseases in this period as a function of vaccination coverage.



In the prevaccination era, the contribution to mortality burden was fairly constant for diphtheria (1·4%), pertussis (3·8%), and tetanus (0·1%). Around the start of mass vaccinations, these contributions to the mortality burden decreased rapidly to near zero. We noted similar patterns for poliomyelitis, mumps, and rubella. The number of deaths due to measles around the start of vaccination in the Netherlands were too few to detect an accelerated rate of decrease after mass vaccinations were started. We estimate that mass vaccination programmes averted 148 000 years of life lost up to age 20 years (95% prediction interval 110 000–201 000) among children born before 1992. This corresponds to about 9000 deaths averted (6000–12 000).


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