Weigh the Risks of Vaccination

A common assumption is that vaccines’ benefits outweigh the risks.  But given evidence that the increase in the number of vaccines since the late 1980’s may be linked to corresponding increases in many chronic childhood health conditions, do the benefits outweigh the risks of the current USA vaccination schedule? To answer this question, we undertook a theoretical analysis to calculate the risk from diseases to an unvaccinated child in the first 5 years of life, and then compare that to the risk of vaccine-injury in the first 5 years of life if that child is vaccinated per the USA schedule.  To make a valid comparison of disease risks to the unvaccinated child, we sought to calculate risk of injury from disease in two cases:  1) the risk in a highly vaccinated population and 2) the risk in a population with low vaccination. Where there is current evidence in the USA of herd immunity for a disease, this effect is considered in the highly vaccinated case (see A SmartVax Discussion on Herd Immunity). To perform the analysis, we made several assumptions about how to calculate risk (see Assumptions for Weigh The Risks Analysis) including a decision to focus on only four of the childhood chronic health conditions that may be vaccine-induced: Asthma, Autism, ADHD, and Allergies.

This theoretical exercise was not intended to encourage non-vaccination, as vaccination is an important aspect of public health to protect against disease.  Instead it was intended to determine whether the vaccine-injury risk has risen to an unacceptably high level, in comparison to disease-injury risk, which would indicate that smart action is needed to make the current USA vaccination schedule safer and more effective.

Importantly, this “Weigh The Risks” analysis found that the number of children affected just by asthma vaccine-injuries far greater than the number of children who would be affected by disease-injury or death today even in the worst-case disease scenario (in which herd immunity was not maintained):


With vaccine-injury risk vastly exceeding disease risk, what can be done?  Steps can be taken by parents in the near-term, as described in A SmartVax Approach to Vaccines, to minimize vaccine-injury risks from the current schedule.  As example, research indicates that delaying the start of one vaccine series by three months might eliminate most of the risk of vaccine-induced asthma.  In the long-term, the public needs to advocate for safer and more effective vaccines as discussed in Take Action for Children’s Health.



[1] MD Kogan et al.  Prevalence of Parent-Reported Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder among children in the US, 2007.Pediatrics (doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1522).  Published online October 5, 2009.

[2] See Vaccine-Induced Asthma for explanation of 1 in 13 risk and how this risk might be eliminated by a three-month delay in of one vaccine series

[3] See Disease Risk Analysis for risk calculations on each of the vaccine-preventable diseases

[4] See Vaccine-Induced Autism for information on plausibility of a vaccine-autism link

[5] See Vaccine-Induced ADHD for information on plausibility of a vaccine-ADHD link

[6] See Vaccine-Induced Allergies for information on plausibility of a vaccine-allergy link

[6] See Vaccine-Induced Deaths for information on plausibility of vaccine-induced death