BACKGROUND: Determining the baseline mortality rate in a vaccinated population is necessary to be able to identify any unusual increases in deaths following vaccine administration. Background rates are particularly useful during mass immunization campaigns and in the evaluation of new vaccines. PURPOSE: Provide background mortality rates and describe causes of death following vaccination in the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD). METHODS: Analyses were conducted in 2012. Mortality rates were calculated at 0-1 day, 0-7 days, 0-30 days, and 0-60 days following vaccination for deaths occurring between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2008. Analyses were stratified by age and gender. Causes of death were examined, and findings were compared to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data. RESULTS: Among 13,033,274 vaccinated people, 15,455 deaths occurred between 0 and 60 days following vaccination. The mortality rate within 60 days of a vaccination visit was 442.5 deaths per 100,000 person-years. Rates were highest in the group aged >/=85 years, and increased from the 0-1-day to the 0-60-day interval following vaccination. Eleven of the 15 leading causes of death in the VSD and NCHS overlap in both systems, and the top four causes of death were the same in both systems. CONCLUSIONS: VSD mortality rates demonstrate a healthy vaccinee effect, with rates lowest in the days immediately following vaccination, most apparent in the older age groups. The VSD mortality rate is lower than that in the general U.S. population, and the causes of death are similar.