Historic effect of vaccines
Infectious diseases were one of the most common causes of death before the invention and implementation of vaccines. For example, at the end of the 18th century, smallpox killed about 400,000 Europeans a year. Children were particularly vulnerable to the disease and 80% of those infected died. In the 20th century, smallpox was estimated to have killed 300–500 million people.
However, in 1979, smallpox caused by natural variola viruses became the first infectious disease that eradicated from the world with the help of vaccination.
Estonia has records of the incidence of infectious disease cases and the impact of vaccination since 1945. The following tables show the registered cases of several dangerous diseases per 100,000 inhabitants, the start of vaccination and the effects achieved.
As can be seen from the tables, vaccination has significantly reduced the spread of infectious diseases in Estonia. However, this effect is likely to persist only as long as people decide to get vaccinated.