Paul Offit is perhaps America’s fiercest advocate for mass vaccinations. In this inaugural edition of VaccineFactCheck, we will examine an article by Offit in yesterday’s USA Today that demonstrates much that is wrong in the vaccine controversy. Too often in their zeal to make their case, advocates rely on factual errors, unsubstantiated claims, exaggerations, distortions and scaremongering.
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Offit strays from the facts in Voices: Our children are at risk and here’s why, his March 5 oped, when he says “measles killed about 500 people a year before the vaccine was introduced in 1963.”
In the decade before 1963, measles deaths averaged 440 per year. If Offit is referring specifically to 1962 (the phrase “a year before” can be read that way) the number of deaths would be 408, according to the National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Report, as can be seen in this document from the Centers for Disease Control.
This exaggeration of the number of deaths, though, is the least of the problems with the Offit quote that I cited. The exaggeration is actually greater, closer to 100%, as I will now explain.

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