On the heels of a report released yesterday by the CDC about the measles outbreaks that have occurred across the country this year, Seth Mnookin has written a compelling look at what may be causing those outbreaks, as well as what the cost might be. He writes:
The most significant factor in the spread of measles in the United States is declining vaccination rates - and, similar to what occurred in the UK in the early part of the last decade, that decline can be traced back to the press-fueled panic sparked by anti-vaccine messiah Andrew Wakefield’s discredited, retracted, and possibly fraudulent twelve-child case study linking the MMR vaccine to autism.
Then Mnookin points to the potentially staggering cost of a nationwide outbreak:
. . .Consider this: In 2008, a deliberately unvaccinated patient of “Dr. Bob” Sears caught measles while on vacation in Switzerland. That single infection ultimately resulted in a total of 12 casesand the total cost of containing the outbreak topped $150,000.
Mnookin's entry is really worth reading. And, for a reminder of the economic benefits alone of vaccination programs, check out my earlier post on the movement to eradicate polio. In that TED Talk, Bruce Aylward, MD, points out: "The entire investment that the U.S. put into smallpox eradication pays itself off every 26 days in foregone treatment costs and vaccination costs."