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If the COVID-19 Vaccines Work, How Come We Don’t Have Measles and Polio Anymore? And What’s Up With All the Hospitalized Cases?

From the “I’m just asking questions” file in my inbox.

René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH
5 min readFeb 8, 2022

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As the editor of the History of Vaccines, a project by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, I’m used to getting some interesting emails. Just a few weeks ago, a woman working at the University of North Carolina used her work email to question the fact that children who get chickenpox miss school and could even die. Most recently, someone asked the following question:

“Can someone there please tell me why you say that the COVID vaccines work if people who are getting vaccinated are still getting infected? Do we see people with measles and poliio (sic) who are vaccinated?”

This question has several problems. First, it is an example of the Nirvana Fallacy. That logical fallacy basically states that if something is not 100% safe and effective, then it is not good at all. It is the excuse many people use about the flu vaccine. “Oh, it’s only between 40% and 60% effective, so why bother?” We bother because that kind of reduction in risk is significant. Imagine if half of the people who would otherwise get sick, miss work, use up money to go to the doctor, be hospitalized, or even die, did not…

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René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH

DrPH in Epidemiology. Public Health Instructor. Father. Husband. "All around great guy."