Modern vaccines are very effective. But nothing is 100% effective. As people know, children can – sadly – be harmed in a car accident even if they are in a car seat. But a car seat is a worthwhile protection because it dramatically reduces the chances a child will be harmed or die.
The same principle applies with immunization: while not a guarantee against preventable disease, modern vaccines provide high levels of protection. In fact, most of the vaccines we give our children are more than 90% effective at protecting against disease. That is very high.
The table below was created to provide clear, concentrated information on the effectiveness of the vaccines on the childhood immunization schedule 1, 2. The numbers are based on the studies examined in detail in the most recent edition of the professional textbook: Vaccines, edited by vaccine pioneer Stanley A. Plotkin and doctors Walter A. Orenstein and Paul A. Offit (6th ed. 2013).
Dorit Reiss is a professor of law at the University of California, Hastings, and has spoken widely and published several articles about the law and vaccines. She is also a valued member of Voices for Vaccines’ Parent Advisory Board.