The Impact of Routine Childhood Immunization

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New Research on the Public Health and Economic Benefits of Pediatric Immunization in the US

Two studies just published in Pediatrics give us an updated picture of how well childhood immunizations prevent disease and the economic impact of this disease prevention. These new studies were conducted because of changes in disease epidemiology, vaccine uptake, and evolving vaccination recommendations.

Reduction of Preventable Diseases

To understand the impact childhood immunization has had on public health, researchers from Merck and RTI Health Solutions designed and conducted a study to compare rates of disease occurrence before vaccines were available with current disease rates. The study considered 14 diseases that are covered in immunizations for children 10 years and younger.

The results showed that childhood immunization in the US considerably reduced rates of infection across all targeted diseases. In 2019 overall, more than 24 million cases of vaccine-preventable disease were avoided.

graph: percentage reduction in disease

IPD = Invasive pneumococcal disease

Economic Impact

In addition to preventing sickness, disability, and death, pediatric immunization is cost saving. A separate study including researchers from Merck and RTI Health Solutions was conducted to calculate the return on investment for pediatric immunization. For the 2017 US birth cohort examined in this study, the study estimated that the economic cost of disease in the absence of pediatric immunization would have been $63 billion. The costs of vaccination were $8.5 billion – fully offset by estimated costs had the disease cases not been avoided. Each dollar invested in pediatric immunization results in $7.50 in savings for health systems and society.


Base case total societal perspective graph


Researchers concluded that sustained vaccination coverage levels are needed to ensure that we continue to experience the public health and economic benefits of the studied vaccines.

Read more about why and how these studies were conducted and their results by following these links.

Talbird SECarrico J, La EM, Carias C, Marshall GS, Roberts CS, Chen YT, Nyaku MK. Impact of routine childhood immunization in reducing vaccine-preventable diseases in the US. Pediatrics. 2022 Jul 13.

Carrico J, La EM, Talbird SE, Chen YT, Nyaku MK, Carias C, Mellott CE, Marshall GS, Roberts C. Value of the immunization program for children in the 2017 US birth cohort. Pediatrics. 2022 Jul 13.

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