The High Cost of Vaccine Refusal

May 10, 2011
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The measles virus can be deadly: it can lead to deafness, pneumonia, encephalitis and miscarriage. By the year 2000, transmission of measles within the United States had all but ceased. All cases since then can be traced to visitors to the U.S. from countries where outbreaks still occur.  Unfortunately, many people are forgoing vaccination out of a mistaken belief it’s no longer necessary.

The measles virus can be deadly: it can lead to deafness, pneumonia, encephalitis and miscarriage. By the year 2000, transmission of measles within the United States had all but ceased. All cases since then can be traced to visitors to the U.S. from countries where outbreaks still occur.  Unfortunately, many people are forgoing vaccination out of a mistaken belief it’s no longer necessary. An article in Wired explains that stopping a measles outbreak before it takes hold is very labor-intensive and costly.

To stop a 14-person outbreak that began with one unvaccinated tourist visiting a US emergency room, the Arizona Department of Health had to track down and interview 8,321 people; seven Tucson hospitals had to furlough staff members for a combined 15,120 work-hours; and two hospitals where patients were admitted spent $799,136 to contain the disease.