CDC: Childhood Vaccinations to Prevent 732,000 Deaths in Kids Born Since 1994

Aimee Simone, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A report finds that childhood vaccinations, boosted by the Vaccines for Children program, will prevent 322 million illnesses and 21 million hospitalizations throughout the lives of children born in the last 2 decades.

Routine childhood vaccination aided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccines for Children program will prevent approximately 732,000 premature deaths from preventable illnesses throughout the lives of children born in the last 2 decades, according a report in the April 25, 2014, issue of the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
 
The Vaccines for Children program, which was launched in 1994 in response to a resurgence of measles, provides vaccines at no cost to children whose parents or caregivers may be unable to afford them. The report analyzes the impact of the program since it was implemented. CDC researchers used data from the United States Immunization Survey from 1967 to 1985, the National Health Interview Survey from 1991 to 1993, and the National Immunization Survey from 1994 to 2013 to estimate the number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths prevented and costs saved from routine childhood vaccination attributable to the Vaccines for Children program.
 
The report estimates that over the lives of the 78.6 million children born from 1994 through 2013, routine vaccination will prevent approximately 322 million illnesses and 21 million hospitalizations, or an average of 4.1 illnesses and 0.27 hospitalizations per child, and 732,000 deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases. The results indicate that the largest number of hospitalizations (8.9 million) will be prevented from measles, and that the greatest number of deaths (507,000) will be prevented for diphtheria.
 
The analysis also predicts that vaccination of children born in the last 20 years will reduce health care costs, producing an estimated net savings of $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in societal costs.
 
“Thanks to the [Vaccines for Children] program, children in our country are no longer at significant risk from diseases that once killed thousands each year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, in a press release.  “Current outbreaks of measles in the U.S. serve as a reminder that these diseases are only a plane ride away. Borders can’t stop measles, but vaccination can.”
 
Although the analysis only included data from the United States, the report notes that policymakers in other countries considering the value of immunization programs should take note of its findings.
 
Approximately 50% of children and adolescents younger than 19 are eligible to receive vaccines through the program. The CDC continues to recommend that all people, regardless of age, keep up to date with their vaccinations.

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