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Vaccinations in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Vaccination involves a virus or bacteria being purposely introduced to an individual, usually through injection, in order for the person’s immune system to develop resistance to a specific disease. Vaccination is one of the most effective means of preventing infectious diseases and is responsible for the reduction of a number of diseases including measles and polio, and the complete eradication of small pox. The vaccines with the highest coverage worldwide in 2019 included DTP1, BCG, and Pol3. In that year, GlaxoSmithKline was the largest vaccine company in the world based on revenue, generating some 9.1 billion U.S. dollars from vaccinations.

The impact of vaccinations

Vaccinations have accounted for a decrease in the number of annual cases of many diseases within the United States, such as diphtheria, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis A and B. For example, in the year 1960 there were around 441,700 cases of measles in the United States. Due to vaccinations, this number was just 375 in 2018 and 1,282 in 2019. Looking at the impact of vaccinations worldwide, it is estimated that around 13.6 million deaths from measles in Africa alone were averted due to vaccinations from 2000 to 2019.

Side effects and vaccine hesitancy

In most cases, vaccines have no side effects; however, like any medication certain unwanted effects may occur. In the United States, such complaints are filed under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). From 1988 to early 2021, 726 petitions were filed with the VICP seeking compensation for injuries caused by the hepatitis B vaccine; however compensation was awarded in only 283 cases. Such incidences result in a small minority of people refusing vaccinations for their children. Vaccine hesitancy, or vaccine refusal has increased in many parts of the world in recent years. In the United States, a rise in vaccine refusal has lead to an increased number of measles outbreaks. This problem has become so serious that in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed vaccine hesitancy among the top ten threats to global health that year.


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