Understanding Immunization and Infectious Diseases

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Vaccines are among the most cost-effective clinical preventive services and are a core component of any preventive services package. Childhood immunization programs provide a very high return on investment. For example, for each birth cohort vaccinated with the routine immunization schedule (this includes DTap, Td, Hib, Polio, MMR, Hep B, and varicella vaccines), society:

  • Saves 33,000 lives.
  • Prevents 14 million cases of disease.
  • Reduces direct health care costs by $9.9 billion.
  • Saves $33.4 billion in indirect costs.

Despite progress, approximately 42,000 adults and 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.* Communities with pockets of unvaccinated and undervaccinated populations are at increased risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2008, imported measles resulted in 140 reported cases—nearly a 3-fold increase over the previous year. The emergence of new or replacement strains of vaccine-preventable disease can result in a significant increase in serious illnesses and death.


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