The High Cost of Vaccine Refusal

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.

Comments (6)

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  1. Bruce says:

    I hope the unvaccinated tourist is being charged the full cost.

  2. Vicki says:

    I agree with Bruce.

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    The article also discussed how some parents won’t vaccinate their kids, hoping all the other kids’ vaccinations will protect their kids from infection. If one of the unvaccinated kids goes abroad, they can bring the disease home. Measles is extremely contagious.

  4. Virginia says:

    It’s amazing how easy it is to prevent diseases like measles, and yet, why do parents not do it? As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, I think it will become more apparent the price we pay for avoiding vaccines.

  5. John R. Graham says:

    When it comes to visitors, it’s fully within the legitimate power of a sovereign state to demand that all visitors provide proof of vaccination. Now, that may be too expensive for the benefits, given that almost all visitors from Canada, Western Europe, Japan, etc. will be vaccinated, but if all countries are having the same problems as described in this post, we may have to go back to that eventually.

    However, when it comes to citizens of a free society, it becomes more challenging. How about a sort of auction system? That is, of only one person remains unvaccinated, there is no risk of contagion. If two, risk increases slightly. Etc. So, offer a taxpayer-funded “bounty” to mothers who vaccinate their babies within 3 months of their first birthday, a lower bounty the next 3 months, etc. I think it would have to be a pretty big bounty initially, so we’d have to make sure we estimated the costs of non-compliance accurately.

  6. Kathleen says:

    I think this article doesn’t have any idea WHY women are not vaccinating their children. Although I personally am all for vaccination, I have family that have feel otherwise, and believes that these vaccinations in fact cause greater health problems than they prevent. Due to the rise in holistic health and Jenny Garth spreading the rumor that her son is autistic, BECAUSE of vaccines, many women believe that these vaccines will cause their children great harm. It isn’t logical, but it is what is going on. It is not simply that these parents believe that they don’t need them, because everyone else got them and they are safe. It is a ridiculous fear of the vaccine itself.