- Vaccines stand out as one of the most cost-effective health interventions in modern medicine. It is estimated that immunizations have saved more Canadian lives over the last 50 years than any other health program.1 Vaccines are credited with reducing the death rate from infections in Canada to only 5%—a far cry from the situation 100 years ago when infectious diseases were the leading cause of death.
But there is a downside to the near eradication of vaccine-preventable illnesses. Most Canadians were born too recently to see the night-and-day difference in public health brought about by immunizations—individuals who witnessed the horrors of the polio epidemics of the 1950s first hand are now well into old age, and many have passed away. Good health can be taken for granted when the public does not properly understand the link between that same good health and the measures that made it possible, and unfortunately, history and science cannot always conquer misinformation, mistrust, and fear.