Is Investment to Increase Vaccination in Older Adults Worth the Cost?

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Health guidelines recommend that older adults in the US be vaccinated for vaccine-preventable influenza, whooping cough, shingles, and pneumococcal disease. But the number of those choosing to be vaccinated is considered suboptimal. The societal cost of caring for persons with these diseases is substantial - would additional spending to increase vaccination rates provide an acceptable value?

Researchers with GSK and RTI Health Solutions conducted an exploratory study to understand the costs and benefits of such a program over the next 30 years. They created two analysis scenarios: comparing current vaccination coverage versus no vaccination coverage and comparing increased coverage to current coverage. Researchers also accounted for the projected shift in the US population toward older age groups over the study period.

The analysis results support the clinical and financial value of current and increased vaccination coverage among older adults for the four diseases studied. Economic modeling showed that the current level of vaccine coverage would reduce the number of disease cases by over 64 million compared to no vaccine coverage over the next 30 years. Increasing vaccine coverage could prevent an additional 33 million disease cases. Study results indicated that each dollar invested in current and increased vaccination coverage would result in more than one dollar of disease-related cost savings from a societal perspective. Efforts to further increase vaccination coverage in older adults may therefore be economically justifiable.

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Carrico JTalbird SE, La EM, Poston S, Poirrier JE, DeMartino JK, Hogea C. Cost-benefit analysis of vaccination against four preventable diseases in older adults: impact of an aging population. Vaccine. 2021 Jul 30. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.07.029

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