Vaccination and all-cause child mortality from 1985 to 2011: global evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys

Am J Epidemiol. 2015 Nov 1;182(9):791-8. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv125. Epub 2015 Oct 8.


Based on models with calibrated parameters for infection, case fatality rates, and vaccine efficacy, basic childhood vaccinations have been estimated to be highly cost effective. We estimated the association of vaccination with mortality directly from survey data. Using 149 cross-sectional Demographic and Health Surveys, we determined the relationship between vaccination coverage and the probability of dying between birth and 5 years of age at the survey cluster level. Our data included approximately 1 million children in 68,490 clusters from 62 countries. We considered the childhood measles, bacillus Calmette-Guérin, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, polio, and maternal tetanus vaccinations. Using modified Poisson regression to estimate the relative risk of child mortality in each cluster, we also adjusted for selection bias that resulted from the vaccination status of dead children not being reported. Childhood vaccination, and in particular measles and tetanus vaccination, is associated with substantial reductions in childhood mortality. We estimated that children in clusters with complete vaccination coverage have a relative risk of mortality that is 0.73 (95% confidence interval: 0.68, 0.77) times that of children in a cluster with no vaccinations. Although widely used, basic vaccines still have coverage rates well below 100% in many countries, and our results emphasize the effectiveness of increasing coverage rates in order to reduce child mortality.

Keywords: bacillus Calmette-Guérin; child mortality; diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus; measles; missing data; polio; tetanus; vaccinations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Mortality / trends*
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Male
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*