Flu Immunization Found to be Most Cost-Effective Vaccine in Adults

By Brenda L. Mooney, /alert Contributor
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The influenza vaccine not only prevents millions of flu illnesses each year and dramatically decreases infection severity in those who are immunized, it does so cost-effectively.

That’s according to an article in the journal Vaccine, which pointed out that lack of cost-effectiveness awareness might  contribute to undervaluation of adult vaccinations and their under-utilization.


​Vaccine syringe and vial. Source: Getty

A meta-analysis from Tulane University and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed research literature since 1980 to summarize economic evidence for adult vaccinations included on the adult immunization schedule.

Looking at outcomes that assessed age-based vaccinations, the percentage indicating cost-savings was 56% for influenza, 31% for pneumococcal, and 23% for tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccinations.

“Coverage levels for many recommended adult vaccinations are low,” the authors wrote. “The cost-effectiveness research literature on adult vaccinations has not been synthesized in recent years, which may contribute to low awareness of the value of adult vaccinations and to their under-utilization.” In response, the study team assessed research literature since 1980 to summarize economic evidence for adult vaccinations included on the adult immunization schedule.

To do that, researchers  searched PubMed, EMBASE, EconLit, and Cochrane Library from 1980 to 2016 and identified economic evaluation or cost-effectiveness analysis for vaccinations targeting adults in the United States or Canada. Economic values were extracted by two reviewers from 78 publications included in the final analysis – 25 involving influenza, 18 for the pneumococcal vaccine, nine for the humanpapillomavirus vaccine, seven for the herpes zoster vaccine, nine for the Tdap vaccine, nine for the HBV vaccine and one on multiple vaccines.

At the same time, the percent of outcomes indicating a cost per QALY of $100,000 or less was 100% for influenza, 100% for pneumococcal, 69% for human papillomavirus, 71% for herpes zoster, and 50% for tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccinations.

“The majority of published studies report favorable cost-effectiveness profiles for adult vaccinations, which supports efforts to improve the implementation of adult vaccination recommendations,” the authors concluded.