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The Impact of Childhood Immunizations   To Public Health theme page
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2. Nice to Know:

Chen and DeStefano (Lancet 1998;351:611) illustrated the impact of childhood immunizations.  Using figures for the USA, they reported the peak level of cases of disease before the introduction of immunizations, and then in 1997. (The Canadian Immunization Guide provides Canadian figures, showing comparable declines with the exception of Pertussis, which showed only a 76% decline in Canada).

 

Disease Pre-vaccine era
(year)
Cases in 1997
% change
Diphtheria
206,939
1921
5
-99.99
Measles
894,134
1941
135
-99.98
Mumps
152,209
1968
612
-99.60
Pertussis
265,269
1934
5,519
-97.92
Polio (wild)
21,269
1952
0
-100.0
Rubella
57,686
1969
161
-99.72
Congenital rubella syndrome
20,000
1964-65
4
-99.98
Tetanus
1,560
1948
43
-97.24
Invsive Hib
20,000
1984
165
-99.18
Total
1,639,066
6,644
-99.59
Vaccine adverse events
0
11,365
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note that the bottom line indicates adverse events. Clearly, when a disease is virtually eliminated, the possibility arises that adverse effects of immunization can exceed the dangers of the disease. However, if immunization rates then fall in response to this, disease rates can increase again. .

The costs and benefits of immunization can be counted in many ways. Benefits include the saved economic cost of treating disease that did not occur, but this is only part of it: the value to the person of not falling sick (maybe dying) is perhaps inestimable.

 

3. Additional Information:

An interesting study from Alberta illustrates basic cost-benefit calculations, applied to the Capital Health Region in Edmonton:

Disease

Reported # of cases, 2004
Estimated # of cases averted, 2004
Estimated direct medical cost of cases averted

Diphtheria

0
515
$4,192,000

Pertussis

136
5,809
$3,038.000

H. influenza b

0
40
$77,600

Measles

0
5,648
$1,700,000

Mumps

0
446
$37,464

Rubella

0
1,050
$71,400

Varicella

389
909
$102,717

Invasive pneumococcal

140
51
$157,000

Invasive meningococcal

2
70
$1,606,600

Total

$10,984,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They then estimated the cost of administering the vaccine at $7.7 million for the vaccines and $2.1 for delivering them: total (rounded) $9.9 million, for a savings of one million in direct medical costs.

Caandian Immunication Guide: comparing the hazards of vaccines with the hazards of disease

 

Updated August 26, 2014