In the United States, where approximately 85 percent of the population is vaccinated, and the small but vocal anti-vaccine movement has driven up rates of measles, according to the CDC, the public health cost of rejecting vaccines is significant. “In the United States, it costs between $10 and $60 per day for each person vaccinated,” Jennifer Lidow wrote for Mother Jones last year. “In developing countries, that figure can run up to $2,000 a day.”
Vaccination hesitancy isn’t limited to the U.S., either. In a new report on vaccination hesitancy and the success of governments in impeding its spread, the World Health Organization called the phenomenon “a global challenge with far-reaching consequences.”
The WHO review, called “Identifying protective measure against vaccine hesitancy and measles outbreak,” concludes that countries face the following challenges: Some countries do not have enough universal coverage for one or both major vaccines, and the countries with optimal coverage fall into low-income countries (LICs).
“Globally, countries that have effective vaccination programs against both measles and rubella (MMR) are more likely to avoid a measles outbreak, and those with high-level immunization coverage have the lowest proportion of measles deaths,” the report says. “Not all eligible people are vaccinated, and countries need to address the lower levels of vaccinations.”
But just how does a country’s investment pay off? That’s difficult to determine, the report says. WHO learned that countries with high-level immunization coverage for both MMR and rubella have lower rates of measles. But other factors can work against a country’s gains. “Improvements in immunization coverage may be offset by the fact that some countries have relatively high disease burden, low vaccination coverage, and low indicators of social trust or tolerance of the precautionary principle,” the report says.