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Vaccinations Save Lives ... and LOTS of Money

Little baby get an injection
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you could save the U.S. $1.7 trillion dollars, would you? What if it also meant saving hundreds of thousands of lives?

Parents of children born between 1994 and 2013 did just that...simply by getting their kids vaccinated, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released today.

But how can vaccinations save so much money? The report states that the figure is the calculated sum of all the savings over the 20-year period. Of the $1.7 trillion, $295 billion were savings from direct costs averted and $1.38 trillion from savings to society (in other words, not spreading the diseases, and not increasing costs and risks for others).

Vaccines for Children was implemented in 1994 to help families who couldn't afford life-saving vaccinations (measles, mumps, polio, etc.). The federally funded program provided free vaccines for those children. Over the 20 years that the report examined, researchers calculated that the program prevented 731,700 premature deaths, 21 million hospitalizations and 322 million illnesses.

While the numbers are striking, the debate about vaccinating today is still a heated one. What's more, this report comes on the heels of an outbreak of measles in the Philippines that is coming to the U.S. via unvaccinated children.

“Current outbreaks of measles in the U.S. serve as a reminder that these diseases are only a plane ride away," says Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director. "Borders can’t stop measles, but vaccination can.”

So the question remains, if you could save lives, money and the ensure the health of your own child, would you?

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