The Value of Vaccination
Vaccination is most often studied from a scientific, clinical, or epidemiological perspective, and rightly so, for vaccines are meant to improve health outcomes. But these are not the only lenses through which the effects of vaccination programs can be understood. This chapter provides an economic perspective on vaccination programs, detailing in particular a new line of inquiry that makes a case for the importance of vaccination to achieving national economic aims. Research has shown that national spending on childhood vaccination programs does more than just reduce morbidity and mortality in a country: it also promotes national economic growth and poverty reduction. The chapter begins with a look at recent research that demonstrates powerful links that run from population health to economic well-being. Second, it discusses how knowledge of the economic benefits of health fundamentally transforms how we understand the value of vaccination. And third, it provides evidence for the scale of the returns that countries receive when they invest in immunization programs – returns that have not been fully captured by traditional economic analyses.
KeywordsVaccination Program Immunization Program Herd Immunity Childhood Vaccination Medical Care Cost
This chapter was presented at a course on “Hot Topics in Infection and Immunity in Children 2009” conducted at Oxford University, June 28–July 1, 2009. I am grateful to Jennifer O’Brien and also to Elizabeth Cafiero, Poting Cheung, Marija Ozolins, and Larry Rosenberg for the research and editorial assistance they provided in the preparation of this chapter.
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