Vaccines save lives and $$

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As any regular Dispatch reader knows, vaccines save millions of lives worldwide. Now, a recent report published in the the CDC s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report makes it clear that they also save billions of dollars and that s in the U.S. alone. According to the CDC s estimates, the current childhood immunization schedule which includes vaccinations such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-acellular-pertussis (DTaP), and Hepatitis B saves this country about $14 billion in direct costs associated with treating particular diseases, and $69 billion in total societal costs.

However, these aren t the only inoculations that have made an impact. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (for bacterial meningitis, pneumonia and septicemia) has prevented an estimated 211,000 serious infections and 13,000 deaths since its approval in 2000. Routine vaccination for rotavirus, the most common viral cause of severe gastrointestinal illness especially diarrhea has, since its implementation in 2006, prevented 40,000 to 60,000 rotavirus hospitalizations each year in the U.S. (One of the two rotavirus vaccines on the market, RotaTeq, was co-developed by ACSH trustee Dr. Paul Offit, the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children s Hospital of Philadelphia).

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross observes that, despite the obvious life-saving role vaccination plays, many Americans are afraid of any risk that vaccines can pose: he recalls how RotaShield, the first rotavirus vaccine developed in the late-90s, was found to have a very small incidence of a severe side effect called intussusception, which led to it being pulled from the market. This was despite the fact that its high rate of protection would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives each year worldwide and that the risk of this side effect was minuscule.

Be sure to vaccinate your children and receive the appropriate booster shots, says Dr. Ross. These vaccines will not only prevent you from contracting a preventable disease, but they ll keep you from spreading these diseases to those who are more susceptible to disease and also to babies who are too young to be vaccinated.