The Power of Vaccines

Via the NYTMeasles Deaths Fall to a Record Low Worldwide:

For the first time in history, annual deaths around the globe from measles have fallen below 100,000, the World Health Organization announced this year. As recently as the 1980s, measles killed 2.6 million people a year.

The decline — a public health triumph, as measles has long been a leading killer of malnourished children — was accomplished by widespread donor-supported vaccination that began in the early 2000s.

The estimated number of deaths fell to 89,780 in 2016, but the figure was released by the W.H.O. only in October.

These are truly astounding figures, and ones that put the anti-vaxxer movement into its shameful context.

Because measles is so contagious — one child can infect a dozen others in a classroom or at a playground, even before the telltale rash appears — outbreaks in any community or school can be prevented only by pushing vaccination rates to 95 percent.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Mikey says:

    These are truly astounding figures, and ones that put the anti-vaxxer movement into its shameful context.

    A context that basically boils down to this:

    “If a couple million grubby poor kids have to die to make sure my precious little jewel doesn’t get autism, well, that’s a price we should be willing to pay.”

    Shameful, indeed.

  2. Slugger says:

    Congratulations to the doctors and scientists behind this development. You are true benefactors of humanity.

  3. Franklin says:

    @Mikey: Well, if it *actually* caused autism, perhaps I could at least basically understand the sentiment. But then, I believe there are things worse than death – and severe autism might be one of them.

  4. Mikey says:


    But then, I believe there are things worse than death – and severe autism might be one of them.

    Good friends of mine have a son who is “on the spectrum,” and he exhibits pretty much all the symptoms to a significant degree. It’s not easy, for him or his mom and stepdad, but worse than death? Not even remotely.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:


  6. KM says:

    Oh it’s worse then then that – they’d rather risk their own child getting serious lifetime complications up to and including death rather then contemplate personally dealing with autism in any way. It’s not just shameful, it’s selfish.

    The entire movement is utterly ablelist to its core in that it declares it’s better to be blind, crippled, breathing-impaired, severely brain-damaged or dead then possibly autistic…. and keep in mind, they’re referring to the “mild” autism where your child can’t look you in the eye or speak properly and not the massively debilitating, requires institutionalization variety. Anti-vaxxers would rather intentionally damage a child via disease exposure Russian roulette then take a made-up risk of possible damage via statistical Russian roulette (after all, even they acknowledge not all kids are autistic after vaccines so clearly the odds are in your favor). It’s all about them and how they “just can’t deal with that!”

  7. Kari Q says:

    The only reason anti-vaxxers feel this way is because vaccines have been wildly successful in this country. These parents have not seen children die of measles, become disabled by polio, or suffer from a large outbreak of any of the other preventable illness. But they have seen autism. They fear the danger they have seen so deeply that the dangers of those preventable illnesses simply doesn’t exist for them.

    I’m afraid it will take a large scale outbreak of measles (or worse) to remind people that there are consequences to that decision. Right now, too many people think there aren’t.