The Cost of the Measles Outbreak

by tnbutterfly - Mary tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN (Admin) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

The official count for measles cases in the recent/current outbreak in the US is up to 121 cases in 17 states, according to a report by the CDC on Monday, February 9. Eighty-five percent of those cases are the result of the outbreak originating with the Disneyland exposure.

Since the initial exposure and appearance of subsequent cases, there has been much in the news about the severity of this unnecessary disease, the impact of questionable advice by physician's advocating the lack of need for vaccination, and implication and potential complications faced by those who are not vaccinated.

Yes....plenty has been said about the important ramifications of this on the health of the nation. But what about the economical costs? While this impact is not nearly as important as the health consequences, it is surprising and an element that many don't consider.

In 2011, the cost of 107 cases spread across 16 outbreaks cost local and state health departments an estimated $2.7 million to $5.3 million. Because measles is so contagious, infecting 90 percent of susceptible individuals and remaining airborne up to two hours after an infectious person has left the area, the number of contacts a single case can generate grows exponentially once an outbreak begins. The cases in 2011 involved contacting somewhere between 8,900 and 17,450 individuals, which required 42,000 to 83,000 personnel hours.

Contrast those numbers with the cost of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, which prevents the measles in 95 percent of those who get one dose and 99 percent of those who get both doses. A provider under a CDC contract, such as those using the Vaccines for Children program, pays just $1.99 for a single pediatric dose of MMR (or $3.70 for an adult dose), and the private sector price is just $5.61.

There has been heated discussion regarding the risk of the vaccine. Measles kills approximately one in !,000 to 3,000 cases. It causes brain damage from encephalitis in one in 1,000 cases. This number does not include those who suffer from other complications. This is the main cost from measles that should make the biggest impression. Let's use our cents and our sense when it comes to vaccination.

For more about the cost of measles outbreaks, go to Measles Outbreaks in Dollars and Cents: It Costs Taxpayers Bigtime