CDC: Child Vaccine Program Prevented 731K Deaths, Saved $1.7T
During the first 20 years of the Vaccines for Children program, routine childhood vaccinations have prevented an estimated 731,700 premature deaths, 21 million hospitalizations and 322 million diseases, according to a CDC report published Friday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Los Angeles Times "Science Now" reports.
The VFC program was created after an outbreak of 55,000 measles cases between 1989 and 1991. The program aims to ensure that children receive recommended vaccinations regardless of their ability to pay (Kaplan, "Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 4/24).
VFC covers vaccines for a variety of diseases, including measles, mumps, and rubella. CDC noted that VFC will be expanded under the Affordable Care Act (Beasley, Reuters, 4/24).
For the report, researchers analyzed the costs and benefits of vaccines administered under VFC by comparing vaccination rates -- as reported by the National Health Interview Survey -- from 1994 to 2013 with data -- as reported by the U.S. Immunization Survey -- from 1967 to 1985 and from NHIS' data from 1991 to 1993.
The report found that vaccines administered during the two-decade period saved the U.S. $1.7 trillion. About $295 billion of that figure is from direct costs that were averted, and $1.38 trillion is the estimated net savings to the country, "Science Now" reports.
Further, the report found that more than 50% of the prevented diseases were of three illnesses:
- Almost 70 million fewer measles cases;
- 68 million fewer chickenpox cases; and
- 54 million fewer whooping cough cases ("Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 4/24).
Measles Makes a Comeback
In related news, 129 people in 13 states have been infected with measles during the first four months of 2014, the most reported cases since 1996, CDC officials said Thursday, the Washington Post's "To Your Health" reports (Bernstein, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 4/24).
According to CQ HealthBeat, CDC said that measles have been reported in 13 states, with the most cases in:
- California, with 58;
- New York, with 24; and
- Washington, with 13.
Thirty-four of the 129 cases involved unvaccinated individuals who traveled into the U.S. with the disease (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 4/24). Seventeen such individuals contracted the disease in the Philippines, where a current outbreak has affected 20,000 individuals and resulted in 69 deaths.
No deaths related to measles have been reported in the U.S. since 2003. However, Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said "[I]t's probably just a numbers game, probably just a matter of time until we have more."
During the past 20 years, a public health campaign in the U.S. has made measles outbreaks rare but the number of unvaccinated children is becoming a problem, Schuchat said. Some individuals have decided against having their children vaccinated because of personal reasons, while others are unaware or are unable to receive immunizations before arriving in the U.S.
However, she noted that less than 1% of U.S. toddlers have received no vaccines, adding, "Vaccinating your children is still a social norm in this country" ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 4/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.