Kent Sepkowitz NAILS IT:
Of all the sequestration pink slips about to be handed down from Washington, the one for programs to vaccinate children seems particularly shortsighted. Sure, there are several other candidates for worst idea ever, from education cuts to defense cuts. But with childhood vaccinations, we have not only the emotional tug (our darling babies!) but also financial reality: Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective preventative strategies in health care, saving billions of dollars a year.
Indeed, federal support of the vaccination of children may be the best example of well-spent federal dollars. Because any time vaccination is stopped—for religious or ideological or personal reasons—disease reappears. In the last decade, the U.S. and Europe have seen the return of pertussis (whooping cough), mumps, and measles due to incomplete vaccination, while Africa and Asia continue to battle outbreaks of polio. The famous Swine flu pandemic of 2009 infected about 60 million Americans and demonstrated the startling reach of a dangerous disease without an effective vaccination. And yet, with the sequester set to shave $2.4 billion off public health initiatives, there will be 840,000 fewer vaccinations—shots not given to infants and children (and a few adults) to prevent infections, all cheap to prevent and expensive to treat.