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Measles Vaccine Exists for a Reason (In Case You Forgot)

A new study estimates the negative public health consequences and significant economic burden of measles vaccine nonadherence. It suggests that should parents in the U.S. continue to opt out of routine vaccinations for their children, a resurgence of measles will occur, and the virus could spread quickly.

According to the study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, even a 5 percent decline in vaccination rates in the U.S. could lead to what would otherwise be a highly preventable outbreak. It would cause an estimated threefold increase in measles cases nationally for children between the ages of 2 and 11, plus $2.1 million in public health expenses. Expenses covered by this estimation would include personnel wages and salaries, contact tracing, transportation, laboratory analysis, vaccination and overhead. However, the money would not cover costs of illness, loss of productivity to the parent or the hospitalization of sick children and adults, suggesting that the overall cost of an outbreak would be much higher.

“These estimates would be substantially higher if unvaccinated infants, adolescents and adult populations are also considered,” the authors of the paper wrote. “We predict that removal of nonmedical (e.g., personal belief) vaccine exemptions for childhood vaccination will mitigate this trend and substantially reduce measles and other infectious diseases in the United States.”

To conduct the study, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and…

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