Study finds vaccines boost the economies of poor countries

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A study determined that previous measurements of the benefits of immunization have generally underestimated their economic value by focusing solely on health-related impacts such as averted illnesses, hospitalizations, deaths, disability, and medical costs. The study provides a more thorough investigation of the impacts of vaccination by looking at its effects on cognitive development, educational attainment, labor productivity, income, savings, investment, and fertility. The article is authored by David E. Bloom and David Canning of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Mark Weston of River Path Associates, a knowledge consultancy based in the UK. “Our study finds that the benefits of vaccination have been greatly underestimated. The economic impacts of immunization stem from the fact that immunization protects individuals not only against getting an illness per se, but also against the long- term effects of that illness on their physical, emotional, and cognitive development,” said David E. Bloom, who is Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at HSPH. “When kids grow up healthier, they do better in school and, later, as adults, are more productive, earn more, and save more. Overall, we found powerful new sources of economic returns from immunization.”