April 24-30 is World Immunization Week and we at A Plus are proud to present a five-part series that celebrates the incredible impact vaccines have had on global health.
One of the biggest misconceptions about vaccinations is that they exist to pad the wallets of pharmaceutical companies. While it's true that vaccines aren't free, they're an incredible bargain compared to the costs of getting sick.
Being sick is expensive. In addition to the cost of seeing the doctor, running tests, getting medications, and a whole host of other direct fees, there are indirect expenses, including lost productivity from missed days at work and the effect of not drawing a salary.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that every dollar spent on vaccines saves $16 in associated costs of being sick. When the expanded economic impact is taken into consideration, the figure jumps up to $44.
This might sound a bit abstract to those of us privileged enough to have regular access to health care, but vaccines are absolute game-changers for those living in less-developed areas of the world.
There are many clinics in this world that have too many patients with too few resources to care for everyone adequately. By reducing the number of patients with vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, measles, or pertussis, the dedicated medical professionals working in these facilities can instead focus on necessities such as prenatal care, managing HIV infections, cancer treatments, and others.
In this sense, vaccinations aren't just useful in regards to the diseases they prevent, but for overall health and well-being.
Michael Schall / A Plus
Thanks to efforts from Rotary International and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, vaccinations have nearly wiped out polio from the planet. Polio was endemic in 125 countries in 1985 and today only 2 countries need to stop the transmission of polio. This means that for the last 30 years, doctors and nurses around the globe have been increasingly spared the time and expense of treating polio, allowing them to focus on other ways to promote health in their communities.
Every dollar spent on vaccines saves $16 in associated costs of being sick.
The same study from Johns Hopkins found that when looking at 94 mid-low income countries, $34 billion will be spent on vaccines from 2011-2020. Sure, that is a lot, but it will save $586 billion in medical fees.
When all of the other economic savings are factored in, it totals a staggering $1.53 trillion.
Instead of asking whether or not we can afford to vaccinate everyone, we need to understand that we can’t afford not to.
Vaccinations have been shown to be safe and effective over and over again. Preventing infectious disease not only improves the quality of life of people around the globe, but it makes complete financial sense as well.
Join the fight to eradicate polio by donating to Rotary International here. For every dollar that comes in, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $2, which triples the power of the contribution.
Check out the other stories in our World Immunization Week series: