Background: Vaccines are very effective medical tools for disease prevention and
life span increase. Controversies have raised concern about their safety, from autism to polio
vaccine contamination with simian virus 40 (SV-40). Hysteria surrounding vaccine-associated
risks has resulted in a declining number of vaccinations in developed countries. Outbreaks of
vaccine-preventable diseases (e.g. measles) have occurred in Europe and North America,
causing also some causalities.
Objectives: In this review, data on safety and efficacy of vaccines are discussed, showing that
the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks and that it is important to comply with vaccination
protocols, to avoid spreading of severe, preventable diseases.
Methods: Those opposed to vaccinations suggest that scientific literature supporting vaccines
is influenced by pharmaceutical companies. In this review, studies on influenza produced by
independent scientists and those authored by those who received some kind of benefit from
the industry are discussed separately. All the chosen papers were selected through a MEDLINE
Results: Vaccination rates are decreasing, even though they are effective public health tools.
Influenza, for example, is responsible for 250,000–500,000 deaths each year, according to the
WHO. Yet, campaigns to extend influenza vaccine to all elderly subjects report little success,
because of the vaccine scare and because not all patients develop immunity following vaccination.
Conclusions: This review proves that vaccine hysteria is detrimental because: 1) it causes an
increased morbidity and mortality from preventable diseases; 2) it jeopardizes research for
new vaccines; 3) patients are reluctant to accept any form of immune-therapy, commonly referred
to as “vaccination”.