Measles vaccinations reduced global fatalities by 75 percent between 2000 and 2013, preventing approximately 15.6 million deaths, reports the World Health Organization. Due to proactive vaccination, measles-related deaths worldwide dropped to 145,700 in 2013, compared to 2.6 million in 1980.
A single dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR, is about 93 percent effective at preventing the disease after exposure to the virus, while two doses increase effectiveness to 97 percent, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles remains a threat in countries without widespread vaccination, so immunization in early childhood helps to protect children and adults from the virus when traveling outside the United States. While children most often receive the MMR vaccine at age 1, doctors can safely immunize infants as young as 6 months old in preparation for international travel.
Immunization for measles without mumps and rubella vaccines costs roughly $1 per child, making it a cost-effective treatment, according to the World Health Organization. Without proactive vaccination initiatives, countries experience high child mortality rates, and pregnant women face the risk of miscarriage or early delivery. The measles virus is highly contagious and most common in developing countries with poor health care systems, leading to more serious, costly and unsanitary health complications, such as pneumonia, encephalitis, diarrhea and dehydration.