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The incidence of many infectious diseases has fallen to an all time low in the US thanks to vaccination programmes for infants and children, say researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. A systematic examination of national data from before and after the introduction of 12 childhood vaccines shows dramatic declines of 99-100% in the number of cases of diphtheria, measles, polio, and rubella. Cases of mumps, tetanus, and pertussis have fallen by 92-96% since vaccination was introduced in 1980. In 2006 no deaths from diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, or rubella were reported.
More recently, vaccination against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) has been associated with a 99.5% reduction in deaths from invasive disease. Deaths from hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and varicella have fallen by more than 80% since vaccines were introduced. Deaths from invasive pneumococcal disease have fallen by a more modest 25.4%.
The researchers estimate that routine childhood vaccinations save about 33000 lives in every birth cohort and save society about $43bn (£21bn; €29bn) in direct costs, disability, and lost productivity from vaccine preventable diseases.