How Many People Die in the USA Every Year from Being Vaccinated?

We know that vaccines work to save lives from vaccine-preventable disease.

If you are at all hesitant about vaccines and are doing your research, you have likely come across the myth that vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they protect us against though.

This is only because most people don’t remember the pre-vaccine era when measles, polio, small pox, and diphtheria, etc., were big killers. So even though vaccine side effects are about the same as they always have been, they can become a much bigger focus for some people because they don’t see any of the mortality or morbidity from the diseases that the vaccines have gotten so good at preventing.

As more people are vaccinated and diseases disappear, they forget how bad those diseases are, skip or delay getting their vaccines, and trigger outbreaks. Photo by WHO

It is at this crossover point that anti-vaccine folks are able to get away with pushing myths, such as like more people die from the MMR vaccine than from measles.

They don’t.

How Many People Die in the USA Every Year from Being Vaccinated?

Although vaccines are not perfectly safe, it is extremely rare for a vaccine reaction to be deadly.

“As for vaccines causing death, again so few deaths can plausibly be attributed to vaccines that it is hard to assess the risk statistically.”

WHO on Six common misconceptions about immunization

So why do anti-vaccine folks think that they are more common than they really are?

That’s an easy question to answer.

“Differentiation between coincidence and causality is of utmost importance in this respect. This is not always easy, especially when an event is rare and background rates are not available.”

Heininger on A risk-benefit analysis of vaccination

They often believe than anything and everything that happens after someone is vaccinated, even if it is weeks or months later, must have been caused by the vaccine. This discounts that fact that most people have a basic risk, often called the background rate, for developing these conditions that can coincide with getting vaccinated. It also explains why they believe in so many so-called vaccine induced diseases.

Another reason is that they also misuse VAERS reports when talking about vaccine deaths.

“In a review of reports of death following vaccination submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from the early 1990s, the Institute of Medicine concluded that most were coincidental, not causally associated.”

Moro et al on Deaths Reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, United States, 1997–2013

Not surprisingly though, studies have shown that most of the deaths in VAERS are not actually related to vaccines.

In fact, most of the things that anti-vaccine folks blame on vaccines, including things you see in many of their vaccine-injury stories, are not related to vaccines.

How Many People Die in the USA Every Year from Vaccine-Preventable Diseases?

Fortunately, most people are vaccinated, and deaths from  vaccine preventable diseases are tremendously below what they were in the pre-vaccine era.

Most people will be surprised to know that they aren’t zero though.

People do still get vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.

And tragically, people do still die of vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.

For example, in 2015:

  • there were at least 37 cases of perinatal hepatitis B infections
  • five infants and children less than age 5 years died of rotavirus disease
  • a 14-month-old died of Hib meningitis
  • an infant died of pneumococcal meningitis
  • a 3-year-old with congenital rubella syndrome died
  • at least two teens died of meningococcal meningitis
  • a woman in Washington died of measles – the immunosuppressed women was exposed to an outbreak in Clallam County that mostly included intentionally unvaccinated kids
  • 85 kids died of the flu

Of course, worldwide, especially in developing countries, the number of deaths are much higher, which is a good reminder of what would happen if more of us stopped vaccinating!

And it is an even better reminder that you have to look at the number of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases today in the context that most people are vaccinated and protected.

If you are truly looking at a risk vs benefit analysis of whether or not to get vaccinated, it is still the great benefit of avoiding vaccine preventable diseases vs the very small risks of getting vaccinated that you should think about.

“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

It is also the small risks of getting vaccinated vs the much greater risk of going back to the pre-vaccine era if you decided to skip or delay any vaccines.

It is not that you have been scared into thinking that the risks of  vaccines outweigh their benefits.

“Millions of vaccinations are given to children and adults in the United States each year. Serious adverse reactions are rare. However, because of the high volume of use, coincidental adverse events including deaths, that are temporally associated with vaccination, do occur. When death occurs shortly following vaccination, loved ones and others might naturally question whether it was related to vaccination. A large body of evidence supports the safety of vaccines, and multiple studies and scientific reviews have found no association between vaccination and deaths except in rare cases.”

Miller et al on Deaths following vaccination: What does the evidence show?

It is not that the risk of getting a vaccine preventable disease is low because you might be able to get away with hiding in the herd.

It is not that the risk of getting a vaccine preventable disease is low because you are counting on everyone else in the world to get vaccinated and eliminate or eradicate the disease and your risk.

If too many parents who are on the fence start believing that their kids have zero risk of getting polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases and continue to skip or delay vaccines, then boom, we are back to the days when outbreaks would close schools and kids would suffer from the devastating effects of these diseases.

Even the schools were closed in San Antonio when polio came to Texas in 1946.
Even the schools were closed in San Antonio when polio came to Texas in 1946.

While anti-vaccine folks won’t have such an easy time convincing people that these diseases are mild anymore, none of us want to wait for more outbreaks to occur before folks get the message that vaccines are safe and necessary.

What to Know About Vaccine Deaths

Despite what anti-vaccine folks would have you believe as they try to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids, vaccines are safe and necessary and vaccine deaths are very rare.

More on Vaccine Deaths

12 thoughts on “How Many People Die in the USA Every Year from Being Vaccinated?

  1. Comparing POSSIBLE vaccination deaths with pre vaccination mortality rates shows that at a LOWER BOUND you are 21,500 times better off getting vaccinated.


    1. Having studied the more recent Moro (et al) report that identified 162 incidents (among the 2,149 reported) for which no cause of death could reliably be determined – if ALL were due to vaccines – that would make vaccinating over 300,000 times safer than not vaccinating.


      1. Googled vaccination death totals in this year all this pro info on getting vaccines but did not tally up all deaths cause by vaccines in this long report obvious agenda here just give us facts and stats up front and center dont give us all this extra non sense God bless u guys


  2. Great job not answering the question. People want a number, even if it is a ballpark figure. Not providing one makes things look a lot more sketchy and is only fuel for anti-vaxers.


  3. I’m pro-vaccine, but it strikes me that I can’t get the exact number of adults and children from vaccines and the percentage of causal mortality. I understand that the deaths are “so few”, but not giving the exact number and highlighting each case with plausible explanations, drives mad people who only believe the scientific data.
    not giving this information is super suspicious (especially to brainwashed parents)…. and not very good for those who support vaccination.


    1. The WHO says: “As for vaccines causing death, again so few deaths can plausibly be attributed to vaccines that it is hard to assess the risk statistically.”
      I think if they gave a hard number, the anti-vaxxers would jump on it and say “See, I told you vaccines are dangerous!”
      I say: “Compared to the billions of vaccinations every year, serious complications are so low as to approach zero.”


  4. I’m an older person who has had all the childhood diseases. There was never any fear or panic and I don’t remember those diseases being that bad. Just a fever for a day or two and a rashy skin, and a very competent and attentive family doctor . So I don’t have the horror of these diseases that younger people might have from what they read. I’ve also had and survived shingles as an adult. It wasn’t nice, but my immune system coped on its own. My daughter works for the NHS UK, and recently she knew of a case of three people in the same family who all received their flu jab at the same time and all three had aneurisms shortly afterwards. This is not fake news; it actually happened. Now you tell me that wasn’t connected directly with the flu jab. I believe people should be asked to make informed choices but of course anyone whose own livelihood depends on promoting vaccines will go all out to convince people it’s the way to go. I agree that vaccines for deadly diseases like smallpox are good, and polio vaccines were a life saver in the 50s, but don’t push vaccines for everything. Our immune systems are the natural route to healing and shouldn’t be compromised by toxins. Thank you for listening.


  5. Please don’t get carried away with small sample sizes, because the world wide evidence is much different from what you are reporting. I am old enough to remember hospitals full of Polio victims, many of whom died or were damaged for life. Before vaccines, about one in 1,000 measles patients died, and deaths from Smallpox, Diptheria, and others were worse. About 1 in 5 children didn’t reach their first year at one time, my dad’s sister among them. Vaccines are an important part of a public health system that prevents that from happening today.


  6. This is medicine, a type of science. and science is backed up with facts, not maybes and possibilities. There is a number to call for Adverse side affects for Vaccinations. They will pay doctors, nurses and parents to keep Deaths caused by Vaccinations quite.


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