732,000: American Lives Saved by Vaccination
The vaccination of children from 1994 to 2013 will prevent 732,000 early deaths in the United States, according to a recent estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a report published last month, the agency announced that 90 percent of children under age 3 were vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and chickenpox in 2014. But fewer than 90 percent received DTaP — the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis — or the vaccines against Haemophilus influenzae Type B, pneumococcal disease, hepatitis A and rotavirus.In addition, fewer than 90 percent received the recommended hepatitis B dose at birth.
About 71 percent of children received the combined vaccine series — shots containing more than one vaccine, including the DTaP (at least four doses); polio (at least three doses); measles, mumps and rubella (at least one); Haemophilus influenzae Type B (at least three or four); hepatitis B (at least three); chickenpox (at least one); and pneumococcus (at least four doses).
Only 0.7 percent of children received no vaccines at all.
Vaccination coverage varied in 2014 by geographic area and the type of vaccine. For example, 93 percent of children in Maine received the DTaP vaccine, but only 73 percent of those in Wyoming did.
Over all, there was lower coverage among non-Hispanic black children, compared with non-Hispanic whites, a disparity probably explained by greater poverty among blacks. Fourteen percent fewer children living below the poverty line were vaccinated against rotavirus, for example, compared with those living above the poverty line.
“The really positive message here is that even though we hear a lot about vaccine refusal, most parents choose to protect their children,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician with the C.D.C. “It’s impressive that so many parents are coming in to get their children vaccinated on time. Parents, providers and government have worked together to accomplish this.”
In addition to preventing more than three-quarters of a million deaths, vaccination has prevented an estimated 322 million illnesses and 21,000 hospitalizations over the past two decades. The C.D.C. estimates that this has produced a net savings of $1.38 trillion in health care costs.
“We sometimes forget how much disease we’re preventing,” Dr. Cohn said.