Economic Evaluation of Vaccination Programmes in Older Adults and the Elderly: Important Issues and Challenges
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High-income countries are undergoing demographic transitions towards populations with substantial larger proportions of older adults. Due to the increased susceptibility of older adults to infectious diseases and their consequences, vaccination programmes are an important health intervention to help maintain healthy ageing. While much of the existing literature suggests that current vaccination programmes targeted at older adults and the elderly are likely to be cost effective in high-income countries, we argue that it is important to more fully consider some important issues and challenges. Since the majority of vaccines have been developed for children, economic evaluations of vaccination programmes have consequentially tended to focus on this age group and on how to incorporate herd-immunity effects. While programmes targeted at older adults and the elderly may also induce some herd effects, there are other important challenges to consider in these economic evaluations. For example, age and time effects in relation to vaccine efficacy and duration of immunity, as well as heterogeneity between targeted individuals in terms of risk of infection, severity of disease and response to vaccination. For some pathogens, there is also the potential for interactions with childhood programmes in the form of herd-immunity effects.
This work was supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Project grant (1081344).
Anthony T. Newall initiated the idea for article; Sevan Dirmesropian carried out the review and drafted the initial manuscript. All authors contributed to planning the structure of the article and revising the manuscript, and approved the final version.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Potential conflicts of interest
C. Raina MacIntyre has received in-kind support and funding for investigator-driven research from GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck, and bioCSL, and has sat on advisory boards for Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. Sevan Dirmesropian, James G. Wood, Philippe Beutels, and Anthony T. Newall have no potential conflicts to declare.
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