Childhood vaccine effectiveness – easy to use table

Too often we hear those opposing vaccines claim modern vaccines do not work. Sometimes, that claim is based on the fact that in some outbreaks, higher numbers of absolute cases are vaccinated. That’s a common mistake, based on misunderstanding of how the fact that most people are vaccinated affects us, and how we can misinterpret childhood vaccine effectiveness by ignoring the incidence rate.

In reality, we can easily see that modern vaccines are very effective because in terms of rates, the rates of diseases are dramatically higher among the unvaccinated (pdf).

But it can be helpful to look at the actual numbers. The fact is that most of the vaccines we give our children are more than 90% effective at protecting against disease. That is very high.

This provides the rates of childhood vaccine effectiveness of the childhood immunization schedule (see Notes 1 and 2). Effectiveness, discussed here, refers to the vaccine’s ability to prevent the outcome – disease or severe disease – in real world conditions (as opposed to efficacy which means reduction of disease in clinical trial conditions).

The numbers are based on the studies examined in detail in the recent edition of the professional text book: Vaccines (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013). Dr. Paul Offit kindly provided additional information, correction and guidance in interpreting some of the data.

Childhood vaccine effectiveness table

 

Childhood vaccines effectiveness

Table notes

 

  1. In children who receive the full series.
  2. Influenza omitted from the table due to large variations from season to season with vaccine effectiveness ranging from 10% to 60%. Meningococcal and HPV vaccines not included since these are recommended for adolescents. The table focuses on the vaccines young children receive.
  3. Anne A. Gershon, Michiaki Takahashi, Jane F. Seward, Varicella Vaccine in Vaccines 836, 852-853  (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  4. Tejpratap S. P. Tiwari and Melinda Wharton, Diphtheria Toxoid, in Vaccines 419, 435 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  5. Aruna Chandran, James P. Watt, Mathuram Santosham, Haemophilus Influenzae Vaccines, in Vaccines 167, 176-177 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  6. Trudy V. Murphy, Stephen M. Feinstone and Beth P. Bell, Hepatitis A Vaccines , in Vaccines 182, 199 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul AC. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  7. Pierre Van Damme et al, Hepatitis B Vaccines, , in Vaccines 205, 224-225 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  8. Peter M. Strebel et al, Measles Vaccine , in Vaccines 353, 364-365 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  9. Steven A. Rubin & Stanley A. Plotkin, Mumps Vaccine, in Vaccines 152, 162 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  10. Kathryn M. Edwards and Michael D. Decker, Pertussis Vaccines in Vaccines 447, 471-482 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  11. Keith P. Klugman et al, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine and Pneumococccal Common Protein Vaccines in Vaccines 504 522-527 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013). 
  12. Emmanuel Vidor and Stanley A. Plotkin, Poliovirus Vaccine – Inactivated, in Vaccines 572, 587-588 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  13. H. Fred Clark, Paul A. Offit and Umesh D. Parashar, Rotavirus Vaccines, in Vaccines 669, 677 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  14. Susan E. Reef and Stanley A. Plotkin, Rubella Vaccine, in Vaccines 689, 700-701 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).
  15. Martha H. Roper et al, Tetanus Toxoid, in Vaccines 746, 760-761 (Stanley A. Plotkin, Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit, eds., 6th ed. 2013).

This article has been cross-posted at Voices for Vaccines.


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Dorit Rubinstein Reiss
This article is by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy and the law. 

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.