(HealthDay News) — For U.S. adults, the economic burden associated with vaccine-preventable diseases was estimated at about $9 billion in 2015, according to a study published in the October issue of Health Affairs.

Noting that low rates of vaccine uptake lead to costs to individuals and society, Sachiko Ozawa, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues calculated the current economic burden attributable to vaccine-preventable diseases among U.S. adults.

The researchers estimated that in 2015, the total remaining economic burden was approximately $9 billion from vaccine-preventable diseases related to 10 vaccines recommended for adults aged 19 years and older. Almost 80 percent of the financial burden ($7.1 billion) was due to unvaccinated individuals.

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“These results not only indicate the potential economic benefit of increasing adult immunization uptake but also highlight the value of vaccines,” the authors write. “Policies should focus on minimizing the negative externalities or spillover effects from the choice not to be vaccinated, while preserving patient autonomy.”

Two authors are employees of Merck and Company, which partially funded the study.

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