News Release
April 24, 2014

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National Infant Immunization Week recognizes value of immunizations in state

New CDC study evaluates health, economic benefits of childhood vaccinations

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 26-May 3, is a time when all Minnesotans, especially parents, health care providers and public health professionals, celebrate and promote the importance and effectiveness of vaccines in preventing childhood diseases and deaths. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides further evidence of the value of childhood immunizations.

One dollar spent on routine childhood immunization, on average, results in $10 in direct and indirect savings to society over the child's lifetime, according to the CDC study published in the journal Pediatrics in March. The study, which evaluated the economic impact of the 2009 U.S. childhood immunization schedule, estimated that routine immunization of children born during that year will prevent approximately 42,000 early deaths and 20 million cases of disease. The study concluded that vaccinating children with recommended vaccines not only prevents disease and death, but also results in a net savings of about $69 billion in societal costs.

The CDC analysis included nine vaccines (not including influenza vaccine) routinely recommended to be given in the first two years of a child's life. The costs of immunizing children were compared with direct and indirect costs that might arise from not being vaccinated and the savings derived from avoiding disease and death through vaccination. More information on the CDC study can be found at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/133/4/577.full.

"While CDC's analysis demonstrates an impressive return on investment in vaccines and immunization services, economic impact is just one way to view the value of vaccines," said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for the Minnesota Department of Health. "The ultimate and true value of childhood immunizations, which include those for infants, is in the reduction of illness, death and suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases for Minnesota families."

Making sure every eligible child in the state can be protected from diseases through immunizations is a primary goal of the MDH immunization program and local public health agencies throughout Minnesota. NIIW is designed to raise awareness of the importance of that goal. The good news is that the vast majority of parents fully vaccinate their children. For example, 9 out of 10 Minnesota families vaccinate their children against measles, mumps and rubella before the baby turns two years old. A 2011 national study found that 93.4 percent of parents with at least one child 6 years or younger fully vaccinated their child.

"Maintaining these high vaccination rates by getting all recommended shots on time every time is the key to keeping deadly diseases away from our communities," Ehresmann said. "Once-common childhood diseases are rarely seen in the U.S. today because of the success of immunizations. But many of those diseases are just a plane ride away."

In keeping with its immunization goal, MDH and its partners strive to make sure cost is not a barrier to getting immunized. The federally funded Minnesota Vaccines for Children (MnVFC) program provides free or low-cost shots to children (18 years of age and younger) who don't have insurance or whose insurance does not cover the cost of vaccines. Visit www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/immunize/howpay.html to see if your child is eligible for the MnVFC program.

As part of its observance of NIIW, MDH will:

  • Partner with the Minnesota Childhood Immunization Coalition for an event May 1 at the Minnesota Children's Museum highlighting the importance of immunizations.
  • Name the 2014 Minnesota Childhood Immunization Champion (a CDC-sponsored award) Monday, April 28.
  • Participate in Grand Rounds with health care professionals in Mankato.
  • Give presentations to birth educators and parents at local birthing centers in the Twin Cities area.

More information on NIIW and Minnesota's immunization program can be found at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/immunize/niiw.html.

-MDH-


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications
651-201-4993