Why we vaccinate: amazing figures from Australia

These graphs show what happens to the number of deaths when we start vaccinating.

The red arrow indicates when vaccines were introduced in Australia. The take-home message: vaccines save lives.

Why we vaccinate
Image (click to enlarge): Number of deaths in Australia from diseases now vaccinated against, by decade (1926–2005). Red arrow indicates when vaccine was introduced. Source: The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers, Australian Academy of Science.

For more information have a look at the website from the Australian Academy of Science which provides easy-to-understand information that explains the science of immunisation.

7 thoughts on “Why we vaccinate: amazing figures from Australia

  • Thanks for sharing this Edwin, good visual to show health consumers and the anti-vaccination lobbyists.


  • It’s even more significant if you consider how the population has increased while absolute numbers have reduced


  • These graphs could be interpreted to oppose the pro-vaccination lobby as they does not indicate when in the decade that the vaccines were introduced. On first glance it looks to me that these graphs show the death rate for all but one disease to be significantly declining before these vaccines came on board. In the case of the measles graph, there is clearly a significant decline way before the vaccine had any say in the matter.
    I am very pro-vaccination and worry that the anti-vaccination lobbyists could use these graphs against me.


    • Good point Helen, thanks for bringing it up. I’m referring to the excellent Q&A booklet mentioned above:

      “Improvements in healthcare, such as widespread availability of antibiotics and better overall medical support systems, have reduced deaths from all diseases. However, the additional impact of vaccines themselves on infectious diseases is dramatically illustrated by the disappearance, or near disappearance, in Australia of deaths from diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio and measles and more recently from cases of Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and meningococcal type C infection.

      For diphtheria, the death rate fell after the toxoid vaccine became available. In the case of diseases such as pertussis, tetanus and measles, although there was some evidence of a decline in death rates before the relevant vaccines were available, the decreases in disease and death rates were much greater after introduction of the respective vaccines.

      In contrast, improvement in hygiene, in the absence of vaccination, had a significant adverse impact on the incidence of polio. By lessening the chance of exposure of young people to the polio virus, the initial effect of improved hygiene was a steady increase in deaths. This is because paralysis and death were more common among older people who had not been exposed to polio during childhood. After the vaccine became available in Australia in the mid 1950s, the disease almost disappeared over the next decade.

      The introduction in 1993 of the Hib vaccine and in 2004 of the meningococcal type C vaccine, led to a very rapid and obvious decline in the number of severe and sometimes fatal infections. Such a dramatic effect in recent times could not possibly be attributed to any change in living conditions or medical treatment.”


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