Even a Tiny Dip in Measles Vaccinations Could Have Disastrous Consequences

Modest reductions in measles vaccination rates among US children are poised to produce an inordinate number of new cases of the disease, while increasing annual public health expenditures by at least $2.1 million, according to new research.

User computer models, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine have shown that a five percent reduction in measles vaccinations among children between the ages of two and 11 would triple the number of annual measles cases among this group. What’s more, the associated public health costs would run upwards of $2.1 million, or $20,000 per case of measles. These troubling findings were published earlier today in JAMA Pediatrics.

“We focused on measles as a case example of the effects of declining vaccine coverage because it is highly infectious,” said Stanford’s Nathan Lo, the study’s lead author in a statement. “It’s likely to be the first infectious disease causing outbreaks if vaccination declines.”

No doubt. Several regions in the United States are currently flirting with the 90 to 95 percent vaccine coverage threshold required to prevent measles outbreaks, a group-wide level of protection known as herd immunity. With routine childhood vaccination rates declining in some parts of the United States, there’s an increased risk for isolated outbreaks, such as the one that struck an Amish community back in 2014. The new study predicts a sharp increase in measles within certain communities should vaccination rates decline much further.

“I think our study is a wake-up call for what we can expect in…