In this section we will discuss the individual diseases that vaccines are available for, give risk information for the disease, dissect risk information for the vaccine, provide information from the product manufacturers themselves about side-effects or adverse reactions related to their vaccine, summarize and link to relevant scientific studies, and offer an editorial stance on whether we personally feel the particular vaccine is worth taking the risk. In certain circumstances, this suggestion will depend on the particular risk profile of the child or parent.
It should be noted that this site is not in opposition to vaccination in any way, we simply wish that vaccines were truly “safe and effective”. Vaccines that cause more injury than they can prevent are a public menace. Indeed, it should be stated up front that there are vaccines that the editors of this site recommend under certain circumstances.
A good example of this, and how our risk assumptions vary from the epidemiological models used by government agencies such as the CDC differ, is rubella. We recommend that all women of childbearing age that will be put at a statistically significant risk of infection be vaccinated against rubella. Why? Because children born to mothers who are infected with rubella during pregnancy are born with high rates of congenital birth defects. This is a bad outcome. In contrast, children who are infected with rubella suffer almost exclusively mild symptoms, gain lifetime immunity to the disease (i.e. girls who are infected have total protection for their future children), and are scientifically proven to gain protection from various forms of cancer later in life. On the other hand, children who are vaccinated against rubella will lose their immunity by the time they reach childbearing years, assuming they don’t die from complications due to vaccination. Government agencies believe that those deaths are acceptable from an epidemiological perspective because it protects other women’s children in utero. As parents, however, we are absolutely unwilling to sacrifice our children’s health and lives for the sake of others, particularly when the disease that is vaccinated against is vanishingly rare in the US. This is where parents often find themselves at odds with the medical establishment.
It should be noted that in all cases, statistics and risk profiles are specific to US citizens living inside the US. For certain diseases, alternate recommendations are provided for those that intend to travel abroad or have certain lifestyles that may increase their odds of infection and mortality.
Vaccines can be made up of one of three forms of antigen (the component that invokes an immune response): a live attenuated organism (a virus or microorganism that is “weakened” from its natural state), a dead cell (a microorganism that is theoretically rendered inert and unable to spread), or a peptide antigen (a component of a virus or microorganism that is isolated for purposes of creating an immune response without necessitating inclusion of the complete organism).
Further complicating the differentiation of vaccines is whether they cause an individual to become fully immune (unable to contract or carry a disease), a potential vector of transmission (an immune carrier—like Typhoid Mary—of either a natural or attenuated form of the disease that can potentially pass it to others), partially immune (a partially immune carrier that can be effected both by natural or alternate forms of the disease with the possibility of transmitting either form to other people, and disease courses will typically be less severe than in an unvaccinated individuals), or an alternate victim (by eliminating one pathogen, another can opportunistically take its place, including the possibility of transmitting the alternate disease—or possibly the original disease—to others).
Literature pertaining to these classifications will either be found in the vaccine insert linked in the article or scientific publications posted in the disease’s submenu.
Per FDA guidelines:
- Category A: Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
- Category B: Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
- Category C: Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.
- Category D: There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.
- Category X: Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use of the drug in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
Most sources of information provide information about the disease, the vaccine, and risks posed by each with studies that are often used to inflate or assuage fear related to those risks. We feel that this does parents a disservice, as it inevitably leads to emotional rationales as opposed to more objective, informed decision-making.
Our unique approach to each condition is to model risk scores for each disease and vaccine so that the numbers can be compared objectively and a true informed decision can be reached. For each condition and vaccine, rates of death per dose are calculated using statistics provided by the CDC, VAERS, and other government agencies and services. In many cases, rates of adverse events are also calculated based upon demographic data (population numbers, % population vaccinated, etc.). We have designed these calculations so that they can be easily verified by the reader, and have provided links to all sources of data for confirmation.
We do not seek to push an agenda, and unlike our medical watchdog agencies, we do not seek to “trick” the reader into a predetermined conclusion. We wish to simply report the facts in a way that is approachable, understandable, and mathematically measurable.
In all cases, the following rules are used unless explicitly stated:
- In the case of disease morbility and mortality statistics, the highest rate of risk will always be used.
- In the case of vaccine-related risk, the lowest rate of risk (actual VAERS data) will be used, and an alternate calculation based upon the FDA/HHS estimate of <1% reporting compliance will be offered as a speculative alternative.
These rules are deliberately designed to be as favorable towards vaccination as available statistics allow. The reason we do this is to prevent accusations of cherry-picking of data unfavorable towards vaccination, or other data manipulations which could indicate a predetermined narrative. We believe it is only fair, when contesting medical “conventional wisdom”, to err on the side of caution. Thus, every effort has been made towards favoring statistics that show vaccination in the best possible light.
All sources of statistics are cited. If varying statistics are available, those statistics are presented with sources for each.
Example Case (measles):
CDC estimates place infections in 1963 at 3-4 million cases, with a bit over 400 deaths and a bit under 1000 cases of neurological involvement. This tracks along nicely with the average in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This year was specifically used due to careful sourcing and a lack of “outlier data”. For example, in 1964 there were nearly 12 million cases with a similar number of deaths and disabilities, but this excessively low rate could be considered outlier data, so utilizing it for purposes of statistical analysis opens us to accusations of cherry-picking. Thus, after reviewing the data, we came to a death risk of 1 in 100,000, and a disability risk of 1 in 50,000. Other data that shows significantly higher rates of risk are also provided, but this is the primary data used in comparative modeling because it is a US government source mined from US population data (using data from Europe, Africa, or Southeast Asia isn’t as applicable to US citizens as data gathered from US cases), and tracks with CDC official M&M estimates for today’s cases as well.
Since 2003, there has been one child death from measles in the US. Even though there were no deaths in multiple years prior, we used this as a cut-off point for VAERS data to be as favorable towards vaccination as possible. From 2003-2018 there were 96 deaths attributed to the measles vaccine.
A calculation was then made using demographic data: at a rate of 3.8 million births per year average this century, and a 93% vaccination rate with the measles vaccine, that leaves ….
3,800,000 children x 93% x 15 years = 53,010,000 doses of measles vaccine.
With 96 deaths, that puts incidence of death at 1 in 552,197.5, or 1 in 550,000 for nice, round numbers (this is done regularly in the case of larger risk pools for simplicity’s sake, but as the risk pool drops, more precise rounding is used). If the FDA/HHS’s <1% figure is correct, the works out to ….
550,000 x 1% = 1 in 5500 risk of death from the vaccine.
This same model was used for calculating complications, disabilities, hospitalizations, and doctor visits related to the measles vaccine, using VAERS data.
In formulating an editor’s opinion, it is sometimes clear that even without considering under-reporting as an issue, vaccination is more risky than the disease it prevents. In cases where the results aren’t as clear cut, it is assumed that the FDA/HHS is off by an order of magnitude in their studies (a statistical unlikelihood, but again, we are being as favorable towards vaccination as possible without resorting to outright fraud), leaving the often uncited calculation as ….
550,000 x 10% = 1 in 55,000 risk of death.
As 1 in 55,000 is riskier than 1 in 100,000, it can be easily concluded that the vaccine is riskier than the disease. Retrospective analysis of outlying figures are also considered on both sides (i.e. foreign data, extremely high reports of disease complications, extremely low disease mortality rates such as the 1 in 500,000 figures from 1964, etc.) and the comparison is reconsidered for “truthiness”. Lastly, if any population subgroup is at greater risk from a disease or vaccine, that subgroup is identified and alternate recommendations are made if applicable.
All of the data and calculations on this site can be replicated by anyone with a 3rd grade math education on a simple calculator in a matter of seconds. We have sought to keep all of our data and methods as transparent and accessible as possible, because we don’t believe that anyone should blindly trust in the judgment of others when weighing choices that could effect the lives of their loved ones. We encourage our readers to confirm and verify all of our sources and data, and welcome any requests for corrections or amendments if new or more accurate data becomes available.
Our recommendations are based almost exclusively upon our mathematical models, and rationales are provided for each individual disease that is vaccinated for according to the CDC schedule.
Summary of Editor Opinions Per Vaccine
These opinions are a summation of information provided on each disease-specific page. It is highly recommended that readers do not consider these opinions to be comprehensive, and read the data and scientific literature provided on each disease’s page (linked per disease or in the vaccination submenus) to gain a more thorough understanding of the rationale behind these opinions. We believe in education, and absolutely do not want anyone to simply “take our word for it”.
Measles: In the US, with current vaccination rates, assuming lifetime coverage per vaccinated individual, and assuming that >90% of individuals with reported measles are vaccinated, an individual has a 1 in 150,000 chance of contracting measles in any given year. Even using the most inflated statistics, this is a vanishingly small chance of infection. Using the worst-case statistics provided above (1 in 29 suffering hearing loss, which is absurd!), this means that an individual has a 1 in 4,240,000 chance of suffering a serious complication of measles, and (at a death rate of 1 in 800, over 100 times greater than the CDC’s values) a 1 in ~120,000,000 chance of dying from measles in any given year. This is comparable to the risk of death from stepping into the shower. Even ignoring the hundreds of thousands of reports from parents who claim their child regressed into autism after receiving the MMR vaccine, given the risks posed by the vaccine, we do not recommend that anyone administer the measles vaccine to their child in today’s society.
Mumps: In the US, with current vaccination rates, assuming lifetime coverage per vaccinated individual (an absurd proposition for this particular disease that not even the CDC stands behind), and assuming that >70% of individuals with reported mumps are vaccinated (the typical figure in recent US outbreaks), an individual has a 1 in 2200 chance of contracting mumps in any given year. Even using the most favorable statistics, this is a small chance of infection. Using the worst-case statistics from Wikipedia listed above, this means that an individual has a 1 in 36,000 chance of suffering a serious complication of mumps, and (at a death rate of 1 in 10,000, which is not demonstrated in recent mortality statistics in the western world) a 1 in 55,000,000 chance of dying from mumps in any given year. Given how the CDC estimates that >60% of all cases of mumps are in vaccinated parties, even with full vaccination the greatest portion of this risk profile would still exist. Futhermore, this also means that in the US, you are 3 times more likely to die from a vending machine falling on you and 75 times more likely to die falling out of bed in any given year. Even ignoring the hundreds of thousands of reports from parents who claim their child regressed into autism after receiving the MMR vaccine, given the risks posed by the vaccine, we do not recommend that anyone administer the mumps vaccine to their child in today’s society.
Rubella: In the US, there have been no native cases of rubella reported, and unless an individual has close contact with those that have recently traveled abroad or travels themselves, they bear virtually zero risk of contracting rubella. Even ignoring the hundreds of thousands of reports from parents who claim their child regressed into autism after receiving the MMR vaccine, for these individuals, we do not recommend that anyone administer the rubella vaccine to their child in today’s society.
For women of childbearing age that have close contact with those that have recently traveled abroad or plan to travel abroad themselves, the decision becomes more complicated. Single-disease vaccines for rubella are no longer available in the US. If there is no chance that the woman will become pregnant during travel, we do not recommend that they receive the rubella vaccine. If there is any chance that the woman intends to become pregnant in the near future or could become pregnant, we recommend that they are vaccinated no later than three months prior to possible conception.
Diphtheria: In the US, given nationwide infection rates and either known or estimated mortality rates attributable to the diphtheria vaccine, there is no rationale for anyone to be administered the diphtheria vaccine. Unfortunately, it is only currently available in the US as a combination vaccine with at least tetanus and acellular pertussis included, so avoiding this vaccine must be decided in tandem with whether the other vaccines should be avoided. For individuals travelling to third-world nations, there is dramatically increased risk from diphtheria infection alongside a scarcity of medical treatment that has dramatically reduced mortality from diphtheria in developed nations. For such individuals, vaccination may be advisable, but for those residing in and remaining in the US, there is absolutely no rationale that supports administration of a specific diphtheria vaccine. To put this into perspective, a US citizen currently has a 8,000,000% greater chance of being struck by lightning during their lifetime than contracting a fatal case of diphtheria.
Tetanus: Tetanus is a frightening and truly deadly condition to contract, often requiring months of rehabilitative care in those that have contracted it. Even given this, there are few scenarios in which the tetanus vaccine will ever provide lower risk than potential reward (construction, farm-work, other jobs involving unsanitary conditions involving high risks and rates of minor skin-piercing injuries). For children and adults subjected to those conditions, we would recommend receiving the vaccine. For all other individuals, we do not recommend its administration.
Pertussis: Pertussis is a frightening, miserable, and potentially deadly disease to contract, particularly for infants under one year of age. It is most easily avoided through sanitation and not exposing infants under one year of age to potentially infected individuals. Since immunized individuals are potential carriers of pertussis even though they exhibit no signs of the disease, this makes limiting exposure difficult. Indeed, your pediatrician may be the most likely vector of transmission if they have recently encountered another child with pertussis! Still, given that the risks from the vaccine outweigh the risk from the disease, we do not recommend its administration, and recommend instead that parents use good judgement and avoid taking their infants to places that may increase their risk of being exposed to the disease.
Hepatitis A: In children, hepatitis A is generally benign as far as diseases go. In adults the disease can range from an uncomfortable long-lasting condition to fatal in rare cases. For adults and children traveling to areas where hepatitis A is endemic, we support the administration of the hepatitis A vaccine at least two weeks prior to traveling. For children not traveling to areas where hepatitis A is endemic, we do not recommend its administration due to the use of aluminum adjuvants. For teenagers and adults not traveling to areas where hepatitis A is endemic, we consider the risk versus reward profile a toss-up.
Hepatitis B: This is a no-brainer. If the mother does not have hepatitis B, the child has absolutely no need for the vaccine. Even for adolescents and adults, refraining from high-risk behavior such as unprotected sexual intercourse and intravenous drug use provides near-perfect protection from this disease. In almost every respect, it is transmissible in the exact same manner as HIV. We don’t know how you plan to raise your children, but we did not send our children off to play with prostitutes and heroin addicts when they were young. We didn’t consider letting them get prison tattoos. Each dose of this vaccine—of which your child would receive three of starting on first day of their life, then another series of three injections a few years later—contains 250mcg of aluminum hydroxide. To put this into perspective, the FDA requires black box warnings on all parenteral (IV/IM/SQ) products except vaccines that exceed 25mcg/L of aluminum due to studies that demonstrate that products that contain over 5mcg/Kg (body weight) have been proven to cause neurological and other organ damage. For a large, 9 pound baby, each dose of the vaccine would therefore amount to 31 times the amount the FDA states could cause brain damage. Even if a parent is willing to vaccinate their children for every other disease, there is no reason, on an individual level, that any child of an uninfected mother should receive this vaccine, and our recommendation is to avoid it entirely.
Polio: In the US, children have virtually zero chance of contracting polio over the course of their lifetime. When one considers that as few as 5% of those that contract the disease have serious complications, and less than a fraction of 1% suffer long-term disabilities even if they manage to contract the disease, the risk versus reward calculation skews heavily in favor of refusing a vaccination that offers more risk than the disease, even if it was still circulating in the population. For these reasons alone, we do not recommend that anyone administer the polio vaccine to their child in today’s society.
Varicella (Chickenpox): It is widely known that varicella is a benign disease in childhood, and much more dangerous during adulthood. Furthermore, any treatment that predisposes an individual towards a more severe condition (shingles) should be looked at with close scrutiny. While varicella infections usually last for 10-14 days, shingles can last for 2-4 weeks, and cause debilitating pain for weeks afterwards. Even ignoring the—admittedly minor—risks posed by the vaccine itself, for this reason alone we do not recommend that children are administered the varicella vaccine. In adults that have previously contracted varicella or been vaccinated, we recommend administration of the VZV (shingles) vaccine according to standard schedules to reduce the risk of shingles.
Rotavirus: At first blush, the rotavirus vaccine appears to afford no greater protection than the disease it is designed to protect due to the risks inherent in the disease itself. With further consideration, given that the rotavirus vaccine does not confer total immunity but only seeks to lessen the severity of symptoms of an infection that every child will statistically contract before the age of 10, and considering the under-reporting of severe adverse events to VAERS, we can see no cumulative benefit from vaccination and only the amplification of risk. For example: 1 in 7,200 children during clinical trials developed Kawasaki’s disease, whereas this is not a condition that can arise from rotavirus infection … ever. When dealing with a disease that kills 1 in 285,000 children each year (over four times more unlikely than being hit by lightning during your lifetime), it makes no sense to expose a child to additional risk to possibly lessen their inevitable symptoms. We do that anyone administer the rotavirus vaccine to their children.
HPV: Cervical cancer is slow moving and has a low fatality rate. On the other hand, longitudinal reports demonstrating that nearly 10% of those administered the HPV vaccine wind up in the ER are worrisome. Given overwhelming evidence that the clinical trials for the HPV vaccine were fraudulent, and early evidence that the risk of death from the vaccine may be as high as five times greater than that of the disease it’s intended to prevent, we believe that the risks from this vaccine outweigh the benefits and do not recommend that any child be administered this vaccine.
Influenza: Even with how useless or risky some of the vaccines reviewed appear to be, the influenza vaccine sets a gold standard for being reckless. Not only is its effectiveness extremely low compared to other vaccines (varying by year), but countless studies have demonstrated that being vaccinated dramatically increases an individual’s risk of contracting an acute respiratory illness by over 400%, but is further shown to be less effective (to the point of negative effectiveness) when administered yearly. Not only do individuals face known risks from the vaccine itself, but the influenza vaccine dramatically increases their chances of becoming acutely ill. In what circumstances could this be considered a “reward”? There is absolutely no use case in which an individual’s risks aren’t dramatically increased through vaccination, so we do not recommend that this vaccine is administered to anyone.
Haemophilus Influenzae type B: Expansive discussion of this vaccine is unnecessary as the risks from the vaccine clearly and markedly outweigh the near-negligible risks from the disease it’s purported to protect against. We do not recommend that anyone be administered the HiB vaccine.
Meningococcal: With under a 1 in 100,000 risk of infection, and under a 1 in 1,000,000 risk of death, the risks of the vaccine appear to be greater than the risks of the disease. To put this into perspective, you have an order of magnitude greater chance of being struck by lightning in any given year than dying of bacterial meningitis that could be prevented by this vaccine. In college students, a case can be argued that the vaccine’s potential benefits are greater than the risk due to a low incidence of adverse events in that age group when contrasted with the risk of living in extremely close quarters with others. For those traveling to the African meningitis belt where the risk of meningitis is over 10-100 times that of the US, it would be appropriate for all individuals to be vaccinated. In all other cases, we do not recommend administering this vaccine to anyone.
Pneumococcal: The risks posed by this vaccine appear to outweigh the risks of the disease whether you take a mathematical approach given morbidity and mortality statistics from the CDC, or the rate of serious complications reported by the manufacturer. It is shocking that any vaccine with a known serious adverse event rate over 8% could ever be approved, but this is the current state medicine. We do not recommend that any child be administered this vaccine. In the case of individuals >65 years of age, there is insufficient data to demonstrate that vaccination against Streptococcus pneumoniae does not cause other bacteria to become more common causes of pneumonia, though emerging research is beginning to hint that this is the case. Since the rate of mortality from pneumonia is dramatically higher in the >65 population, however, we would require that those studies are completed and peer-reviewed before we would consider withdrawing a cautious recommendation that elderly individuals are administered this vaccine.