ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday reported that vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million and hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last two decades. These figures are especially timely considering the recent measles outbreak: 129 people in the United States contracted measles this year in 13 outbreaks, as of April 18.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Vaccines for Children program, which was launched in 1994 as a response to a resurgence of measles cases in the U.S. that caused more than 100 deaths, despite the availability of measles vaccine since 1963. VFC provides vaccines to children whose parents — or caregivers — are unable to afford them.
"Thanks to the VFC program, children in our country are no longer at significant risk from diseases that once killed thousands each year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Current outbreaks of measles in the U.S. serve as a reminder that these diseases are only a plane ride away. Borders can’t stop measles, but vaccination can.”
For children that were born during the VFC time span, the program continues to provide enormous benefits: hospitalizations that were avoided and lives saved through vaccinations will save close to $295 billion in direct costs and $1.4 trillion in societal costs, according to the agency.
April 26 marks the beginning of National Infant Immunization Week, which unites communities across the country to raise awareness about the importance of immunization. For more information, visit CDC.gov/vaccines