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Measles is regarded as one of the most contagious infectious diseases, but since the licensure of the vaccine in 1963, the incidence of measles has decreased significantly. Although the United States achieved measles elimination in 2000, there are still outbreaks due to pockets of low vaccination coverage and imported cases. This essay will provide background information about the virus, the disease, the vaccine, and current trends in measles vaccination. The objective of the analysis in this essay was to estimate, at the state level, the number of measles cases prevented since the licensure of the vaccine. Using data from before the vaccine was licensed, 20 statistical models were assessed based on their predictive ability, with the best model being used to estimate the number of measles cases there would have been without the vaccine. The different approaches examined were descriptive statistics, linear regression, moving averages, and time series models. The estimated number of measles cases from 1964-2010 were compared to the observed number of measles cases to estimate the number of measles cases prevented. The best fit model estimated that the total number of measles cases prevented from 1964-2010 in the United States was over 23 million, while the number of cases prevented at the state level ranged from 4.1 million to only 155. The best predictive statistical model demonstrated that the measles vaccine prevented millions of cases across the United States and that the impact of the vaccine varied among the states. The public health significance of this analysis is that it adds to the analytical evidence demonstrating the significant effect that the measles vaccine had in preventing the disease, which can be used to support the recommendations for high coverage rates of vaccinations or to support the widespread implementation of new vaccines.
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