Vaccination is one of the great public health achievements of the last 100 years.1 The development of vaccination has led to the eradication of smallpox, the reduction of the worldwide incidence of polio by 99%, and the control of measles, with a 74% decline in global measles deaths since 2000.2
With the decline in vaccine-preventable diseases that were once major causes of morbidity and mortality and with the availability of many new vaccines, some targeting diseases that are not major causes of morbidity and mortality in developed countries, public opinion has at times focused on the possible adverse events associated with vaccination rather than their benefit. In recent years these have included high-profile concerns surrounding the association of autism with either combined live viral vaccines (measles-mumps-rubella [MMR]) or preservatives (thimerosal) in combination vaccines. Both associations have now been refuted following careful scientific studies.3 Unexpected benefits of vaccination have also been reported but have attracted less attention. These include the apparent effect of live vaccines such as measles and BCG on reducing mortality from infections other than measles or tuberculosis.4
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