CCID Spectrum
Volume 1, Number 1 March 2006

NIP study shows routine childhood immunization saves billions

Photo: Abigail Shefer, Jeanne Santoli, Mark Messonnier, Lance Rodewald, Fangjun Zhou
Fangjun Zhou (right) and colleagues from the National Immunization Services Division evaluated the impact of seven vaccines routinely given as part of childhood immunization programs. Pictured are (left to right) Abigail Shefer, Jeanne Santoli, Mark Messonnier, Lance Rodewald, and Zhou.
Fangjun Zhou, PhD, and seven CDC colleagues recently evaluated the impact of seven vaccines (DTaP, Td, Hib, polio, MMR, hepatitis B, and varicella) routinely given as part of the childhood immunization schedule and found that vaccines are tremendously cost effective. The study is the first time the seven vaccines have been examined together and with a common methodology.

The study found the use of these seven vaccines will prevent more than 14 million cases of disease and more than 33,500 deaths over the lifetime of children born this year. When comparing the cost of the diseases they prevent and the cost of administering them, these vaccines save nearly $10 billion per year. These vaccines also prevent the need for patients to spend time seeking care and the need for parents to take time off work to care for sick children. When including these and other prevented costs to society, the annual savings exceed $40 billion.

A child is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases after receiving a series of vaccines over time, and not just one shot. This economic evaluation is groundbreaking in that previous studies demonstrating the cost savings of childhood vaccination in the United States have only focused on single vaccines. Thus, expanding beyond the single-vaccine, cost-benefit perspective provides policymakers better information about the economic impact of the immunization program by examining a routine seven-vaccine U.S. childhood immunization schedule.

The analysis will be helpful in understanding the economic effects of the immunization program under current circumstances. Administrators and policy makers may use the results to justify sustained support for programs, make needed modifications, and guide future programs.

The publication—entitled "Economic Evaluation of the 7-Vaccine Routine Childhood Immunization Schedule in the United States, 2001"—appears in the December 2005 edition of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. A summary can be found on the archive website at http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/159/12/1136.