Vaccines rock. You did know that, right?

I’m at an all day editorial board meeting, but I can’t let this slip past. “Benefits from Immunization During the Vaccines for Children Program Era — United States, 1994–2013” (emphasis mine):

When the VFC program began in 1994, vaccines targeting nine diseases were provided: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b disease, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, and rubella (Figure). During 1995–2013, five vaccines were added for children aged ≤6 years: varicella (1996), hepatitis A (1996–1999 for high-risk areas, 2006 for all states), pneumococcal disease (7-valent in 2000, 13-valent in 2010), influenza (ages 6–23 months in 2004 and ages 6–59 months in 2006), and rotavirus vaccine (2006). Since 1996, coverage with 1 dose of a measles-containing vaccine has exceeded Healthy People§ targets of 90%, up from <70% before the 1989–1991 outbreak (Figure). For other vaccines licensed before VFC, coverage also was higher in the VFC era, as measured by NIS, than in the pre-VFC era, as measured by USIS. In general, coverage for new vaccines introduced during the VFC era increased rapidly.

Among 78.6 million children born during 1994–2013, routine childhood immunization was estimated to prevent 322 million illnesses (averaging 4.1 illnesses per child) and 21 million hospitalizations (0.27 per child) over the course of their lifetimes and avert 732,000 premature deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses (Table). Illnesses prevented ranged from 3,000 for tetanus to >70 million for measles. The highest estimated cumulative numbers of hospitalizations and deaths that will be prevented were 8.9 million hospitalizations for measles and 507,000 deaths for diphtheria. The routine childhood vaccines introduced during the VFC era (excluding influenza and hepatitis A) together will prevent about 1.4 million hospitalizations and 56,300 deaths.

Vaccination will potentially avert $402 billion in direct costs and $1.5 trillion in societal costs because of illnesses prevented in these birth cohorts. After accounting for $107 billion and $121 billion in direct and societal costs of routine childhood immunization, respectively, the net present values (net savings) of routine childhood immunization from the payers’ and societal perspectives were $295 billion and $1.38 trillion, respectively.

The number of things that do so much good AND save money is small. We really need to stop fighting about this.


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