The Economic Impact of Not Vaccinating? Who the Heck Knows.

The Economic Impact of Not Vaccinating? Who the Heck Knows.

Every year since 2009, Bill and Melinda Gates have written what has come to be known as their “Annual Letter,” which offers insights on how well the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is progressing to meet its goals.1 This year’s Gates Annual Letter was released on Feb. 14, 2017, and Mr. and Mrs. Gates addressed it to their close friend and fellow multi-billionaire, financial investor Warren Buffet.2 It was posted on the website with a photo of all three framed in a flashing electronic halo.

The Gates’ 2017 Annual Letter focuses on the foundation’s work to promote global health initiatives and contains separate comments made by Melinda and Bill Gates directly to Warren Buffet, who donated nearly $31 billion of his fortune to the Gates Foundation in 2006.3 The letter cites the number 122 million, which is the number of children they believe their foundation has saved since 1990. According to the couple, “Saving children’s lives is the goal that launched our global work.”2

In the letter, Melinda Gates stresses that “reducing childhood mortality is the heart of the work for us.”2 She adds:

Virtually all advances in society—nutrition, education, access to contraceptives, gender equity, economic growth—show up as gains in the childhood mortality chart, and every gain in this chart shows up in gains for society.2

Of all the initiatives undertaken by the Gates Foundation to reduce childhood mortality, however, she points out that the initiative that offers the “best deal within the deal,” or put it another waythe biggest bang for the buck, is vaccines.2

And if you want to know the best deal within the deal—it’s vaccines. Coverage for the basic package of childhood vaccines is now the highest it’s ever been, at 86 percent. And the gap between the richest and the poorest countries is the lowest it’s ever been. Vaccines are the biggest reason for the drop in childhood deaths.2

“They are an incredible investment,” she explains.2 But here is the statement made by her husband that’s a real doozy:

And for every dollar spent on childhood immunizations, you get $44 in economic benefits. That includes saving the money that families lose when a child is sick and a parent can’t work.2

When I read that sentence, I thought, “How on earth did he come up with that number, $44?” Well, it turns out that Bill Gates appears to have calculated the figure from a study led by Sachiko Ozawa, PhD of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which was published in the journal Health Affairs on Oct. 12, 2016.4 5

In an article by Margaret K. Saunders titled “Economic Benefit of Vaccines Highlighted in 2017 Bill & Melinda Gates Annual Letter,” which was also published recently in Health Affairs, the author cites the Ozawa study and writes:

Authors estimated the return on investment for immunization programs to prevent diseases caused by ten antigens, with effects of routine and supplementary immunization activities examined together to assess the impact of entire national immunization programs.4

The problem is that the Ozawa study has some serious flaws. The first one, of course, is the fact that there are huge conflict of interest issues: It was funded by Merck & Co., which was the second largest (by revenue) vaccine maker in the world in 2015, earning $5.9 billion from the sale of vaccines.6 Only Pfizer made more money from vaccines that year, with a total of $6.4 billion in sales.6

Even prior to this study, Dr. Ozawa had led research that had been funded with millions of dollars from Merck and other companies and foundations with a financial interest in the production and sale of vaccines.7 

So you have to at least question the factors that motivated and influenced the Ozawa study. This was not an independent and unbiased analysis of the economic impact of vaccination on society.

But the Ozawa study was even more fundamentally flawed than even the identity of its sponsor would suggest: the underlying assumption of the study was wrong.

It estimated the cost to the U.S. economy of people choosing not to vaccinate themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases at $7.1 billion in 2015. It calculated the most expensive disease to be influenza, costing the economy about $5.8 billion in 2015.7 

That figure was largely based on the estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that 42 percent of adults in the U.S. over 18 years old got the influenza vaccine during 2015-2016, resulting in about 17 million cases of the flu.7 

As I pointed out in an opinion piece I wrote about the Ozawa study last year:

The assumption here seems to be that most, if not all, of those 17 million flu cases could have been prevented had the remaining 58 percent of adults gotten their flu shot—an extremely shaky assumption, given that even the CDC admits flu shots fail half the time.7 

That assumption is far from accurate. Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), pointed out in 2016 that U.S. public health officials have determined that influenza vaccines have failed to protect vaccinated children and adults from getting type A or B influenza more than half the time during the past decade. In fact, effectiveness of the flu vaccines on adults over 65 years of age in 2012-2013 was measured to be nearly zero and the vaccine’s effectiveness was “unexpectedly low” for the influenza A strain among older children compared to other age groups—and ”especially for those who had gotten previous annual flu shots.”7 8

Further, public health officials also found that people who were more likely to report that their general health status was “excellent” were those who remained unvaccinated.7 8

In short, the Ozawa study was an interesting exercise, but the numbers it generated were bogus. There is no way to accurately gauge the economic impact of not vaccinating, because there is no way to know for sure how many people would have contracted an infectious disease and experienced complications that incurred costs to society had they not been vaccinated. There is also no way to know for sure how many times vaccines fail to protect people who do get vaccinated and still get infected and, even though they show few or no symptoms of illness, transmit infections to vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is an excellent example.9

Inaccurate assumptions are dangerous and lead to bogus numbers and faulty conclusions. The evidence demonstrates that some people get vaccinated and do not get sick, but others do. Some people remain unvaccinated and do not get sick, while others do. There are many reasons for why individuals get sick or remain healthy. Vaccines may have little or absolutely nothing to do with the overall health of individuals or populations.

On the contrary, vaccines may well contribute to the growing epidemic of chronic diseases and disabilities in our country, especially among children and young adults. Imagine, for the sake of argument, if it was discovered that vaccines were a factor in the onset of autism, asthma, allergies, ADD, ADHD, learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophreniamultiple sclerosis, SIDS and other diseases, disorders, illnesses, and causes of death.

What would the estimate of the economic impact on the U.S. economy be then?



Note: This commentary provides referenced information and perspective on a topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics being discussed in public forums and by U.S. lawmakers.  The websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provide information and perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking.


16 Responses to "The Economic Impact of Not Vaccinating? Who the Heck Knows."

  1. Anne Nans   February 24, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    If the insane vaccine schedule is taken down a few notches and people go back to vaccine schedules pre 1986 (the year pharma could no longer be sued) then we will
    lose the autism epidemic, most adhd, most asthma. We will save tons of taxpayer money from not needing special needs schools, one on one aids, all the therapies, the group homes (they do exist some places). People may have to take a week off work when their child has the chickenpox or measles, though, or work from home.

    • Dani   March 4, 2017 at 6:05 am

      The chicken pox vaccine was developed in response to business surveys that indicated employers were frustrated with loss of production (and therefore, loss of $)when parents (primarily mothers) had to take time off to be with their kids when they came down with chicken pox. The vaccine has nothing to do with health and everything to do with greed.

  2. Mona   March 1, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Vaccines, especially aluminum containing vaccines weaken the immune system. This explains probably the higher mortality in countries and many infections in children here.
    The introduction of Diphtheria-Tetanus and Oral Polio Vaccine Among Young Infants in an Urban African Community: A Natural Experiment (Mogensen, S.W., et al.)
    “DTP was associated with 5-fold higher mortality than being unvaccinated. No prospective study have shown beneficial survival effects of DTP. Unfortunately, DTP is the most widely used vaccine, and the proportion who receives DTP3 is used as an idicator of the performance of national vaccination programs.
    It should be of concern that the effect of routine vaccinations on all cause mortality was not tested in randomized trials. All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis. Though a vaccine protects children against the target disease it may simultaneously increase susceptibility to unrelated infections”

  3. Rohel   March 3, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    The Gates Annual Letter seems to be a perfect installment into the burgeoning Post Truth literature. Counter arguments and (especially) the facts used in this article simply do not matter. Orwell obviously did not have enough imagination to explore our bewildering 2017 reality.

  4. Wilma Ralls   March 3, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    WHERE IS MY POST????? Right after so published it, it showed up. But 15 minutes when I looked for it again … IT WAS GONE!?!

  5. Karen Pelosi   March 3, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Why don’t Bill and Melinda Gates put some money into an independent study on the horrific effects vaccines have on many children. They can also put some of their billions into helping the parents of vaccine-injured children, they now have to spend the rest of their lives caring for. Who will care for these injured children when the parents are gone?

    • William Larmond   March 15, 2017 at 4:46 am

      The problem with the Gates From Hell, is that they are modern day Eugenic believers, when Bill said that vaccines will help reduce 10/15% of the population in the coming yrs, it part of his plan on how to Eliminate poverty and hunger world wide through Social Engineering.
      Not to long ago The Gates of Hell bought million of shares in Monsanto a company that is poisoning the world with chemicals, that not only kills weeds, but anything that is not Genetically Engineered to survive the application of their weed killer. this company is in the process of buying of most seed producers, and in the process they hope to control the food supply. and I’m willing to bet that most of the 1% eat organic food, the CEO of Monsanto does, and if they were to but a label showing the ingratiates on processed food, it would be a skull and cross bones.

  6. Jim Reilly   March 3, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    If the parent gives permission for the doctor to vaccinate the child, can the child refuse the doctor to vaccinate them?…Does the child have any legal right to refuse being vaccinated?…I mean, they are the ones, directly, faced with the problem of vaccination. We live in Rochester, New York. We have 2 weeks to our next appointment. I was thinking of asking at that appointment for an extension of time, until the end of the school year, 3 1/2 months, to decide. He’s in 5th grade, now. I figure, it is asking a lot of you. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you, very much for your efforts.

    • William Larmond   March 15, 2017 at 4:25 am

      I’ve been looking into vaccines for some time now, as I received some that were mandatory when I was a child, and when I look back, i remember getting most of the illnesses like the mumps, chicken pocks, measles and probably from the vaccines, know i had the polio because of the skin deformation that it left on my shoulder. and I’m in good health at 68, but vaccinations back then were not as advanced or more to the point, deadly as they are to day, knowing what I know today I wouldn’t have let them needle me into taking any shots, I have never taken a flue shot or anything for the past 35 Yrs. and i’d say that the day that I see a Doctor take one of his Owen shots, I’d stay away from these Quacks, today’s doctor’s are for the most well trained big pharma Flunkies and it’s all about money.

    • Amanda   March 16, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      Delay, delay and delay some more. I home school so I’m able to opt out. I don’t know about New York’s regulations on vaccination but I’ve heard other Mom’s say that the school says more are mandatory than the state says are actually mandatory. Also, my chiropractor suggests a heavy metal cleanse before vaccinating – too many metals in the body make vaccinate injury more probable. If you have a family history of certain ailments, you are eligible for a medical exemption – which means you don’t have to vaccinate. You may even be able to say that you child reacted poorly to a vaccination and therefore would like an exemption or at the very least time to boost the immune system before the next vaccine. If the doctor doesn’t cooperate, you can shop around for a new doctor. Also you always have the option to order single vaccinates that are thimerosal free. They may tell you that singles aren’t available – but they are – just reiterate that you want them to be special ordered. You doctor works for you – not the other way around. If they speak down to you – get a new one. If you sense danger when it comes to vaccinating your child, there is probably good reason – trust you intuition – it functions to keep your child safe!

    • Jo   March 30, 2017 at 9:38 am

      You are the first, best, and last defense of your child(ren). Do not let the state dictate to you what is done to your child(ren). Medical exemptions are notoriously difficult to obtain. In NY State, use the religious exemption. And you do not have to state that you are part of a mainstream religion, if that is your concern, although it would be helpful to refer to a pastor (or similar), who knows you, in the document. You need to put together a cogent argument/reasons for your refusal to vaccinate. Even if the child has previously been vaccinated, your refusal is permissible because you’ve come to understand the reasons why your religious beliefs do not permit it. Even if you receive push back from the school after submitting your letter, do not back down. Good luck, you should do fine.

  7. Cindy Flythe   March 4, 2017 at 2:03 am

    Every time that I read something about Melinda and Bill Gates and how wonderful and generous they are, I want to vomit. They injure and kill babies and children without the least bit of remorse. They know it and we know it.

  8. RICHARD L. BRANDON, MD   March 4, 2017 at 12:40 pm


    • Jo   March 30, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Mr. Buffet would’ve been horrified had Bill & Melinda Gates included a CD of the Vaxxed documentary, because Mr. Buffet is certainly ‘on board’ with the agenda. You do not get to be in his position without being ‘all aboard’.
      And let us not forget that Bill’s father was an original member of Planned Parenthood, whose front man was Margaret Sanger. The apple never falls far from the tree.

  9. Amanda   March 16, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I would love to see a school conduct a study to estimate how much vaccination impacts the economy – but then they would get no funding; ever again.

  10. Ann Rosen   March 24, 2017 at 7:58 am

    The number of convenient leaps and omissions that are required to reach Gate’s numbers are pretty astounding. We will never be allowed to know the true repercussions of vaccines. These numbers are based on the misconceptions that, a) vaccines are effective and prevent the diseases they intend to prevent, b) people get sick and miss school and work as a result of failing to get vaccines, and c) vaccines are not responsible for ANY of the chronic and acute illnesses that often require a LIFETIME of healthcare expense and loss of income. If we had to consider some of those costs, these numbers would read entirely differently. If we had to consider the expenses related to the explosion of autism, developmental delays, chronic disease and disability associated with vaccine injury… the impact on our workplaces and our education system… the healthcare repercussions… well, those numbers would be pretty staggering. And that doesn’t even touch the remaining quality of life impact.

    But the public likes numbers and soundbites… so here we are.


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