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Reuters Health Information (2005-12-05): Childhood immunization schedule in US deemed cost saving

Public Health

Childhood immunization schedule in US deemed cost saving

Last Updated: 2005-12-05 16:00:18 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - From both the direct cost and societal perspectives, the 7-vaccine childhood immunization schedule routinely used in the US provides substantial cost savings, according to a report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine for December.

Previous reports have suggested that childhood vaccinations yield cost savings, but most studies have focused on just one vaccine, not on an entire immunization schedule.

Dr. Fangjun Zhou, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used decision tree-based analysis to assess the costs of the routine childhood immunization schedule: diphtheria and tetanus toxoid and acellular pertussis; tetanus and diphtheria toxoids; Haemophilus influenza type b conjugate; inactivated poliovirus; measles, mumps, and rubella; hepatitis B; and varicella vaccines.

The analysis incorporated population-based vaccination coverage, reported vaccine efficacy, historical data on disease rates prior to vaccination, and disease rates reported from 1995 to 2001. A hypothetical birth cohort of nearly 4 million infants was employed in the analysis and followed from birth through death.

From the direct cost and societal perspectives, the immunization schedule provided cost savings of $9.9 and $43.3 billion, respectively, the authors note. The direct costs without and with this schedule were $12.3 and $2.3 billion, respectively, whereas the corresponding societal costs were $46.6 and $2.8 billion.

"Although not reflected in this analysis and difficult to quantify, a dramatic decrease in the loss and suffering of patients, family, and friends is also a direct result" of the routine childhood immunization schedule currently used in the US, the authors state. Vaccination against the pathogens included in the schedule "is a remarkable medical accomplishment that achieves significant public health benefit at a substantial cost savings."

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2005;159:1136-1144.

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