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Vaccines in 2016-30 may avert millions of deaths, impoverishments, largely impacting poor

Health Affairs

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IMAGE: This is the distribution, by income quintile, of deaths averted and cases of medical impoverishment averted by vaccines to be administered in 41 low- and middle-income countries, 2016-30 view more 

Credit: Health Affairs

In a new study appearing in the February issue of Health Affairs, Angela Chang of Harvard University and coauthors looked at immunization programs for vaccines--estimating that as many as thirty-six million deaths and twenty-four million cases of medical impoverishment in forty-one low- and middle-income countries eligible for support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, would be averted by vaccines administered in the period 2016-30, with the poorest groups in these countries seeing the highest percentages of deaths and impoverishments averted. The authors looked at vaccines that prevent ten diseases, including measles, hepatitis B, and yellow fever. Estimating the distribution of vaccine-averted deaths for each disease and simulating monthly household income for each income group, the authors found that the poorest would benefit the most from vaccine programs. The poorest populations across the countries accounted for the largest share of deaths and impoverishment cases averted by all vaccines (see the exhibit below). These findings show that vaccines can have significant health and economic benefits, and the authors call for strong efforts to improve vaccine coverage rates among the poor--for example, by prioritizing the introduction of vaccines in a country's poorer geographic regions.

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