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Cost Savings of Vaccines in US Revealed

October 13, 2016

The potential cost savings of vaccinating adult patients have been revealed in a new report.

Researchers based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the USA have carried out an analysis of ten widely-available vaccines and the diseases they can help to prevent, looking at the impact in terms of cost of people not receiving these jabs on healthcare resources in the US each year.

The ten vaccines focused on throughout the study were designed to prevent:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Human papillomavirus (more commonly known as HPV)
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (the MMR jab)
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Tetanus
  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Pertussis
  • The herpes zoster virus, which causes shingles

It was found that adults who had not received the flu vaccine caused the biggest financial strain on healthcare resources in 2015, costing almost $5.8 billion in total, with figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that under half (42 per cent) of USA adults took advantage of the jab last winter.

Meanwhile, meningitis, which is another condition that can be easily prevented with a vaccine, cost the US $1.9 billion last year, while treating the herpes zoster virus cost the nation approximately $782 million.

Overall, the study authors estimate that the total cost of unvaccinated adults to the US economy each year comes in at $9 billion, with 95 per cent of this coming from inpatient and outpatient care and the remaining five per cent from lost productivity.

Professor Sachiko Ozawa, lead author of the research, commented: "We believe our estimates are conservative and highlight the potential economic benefit of increasing adult immunisation coverage and the value of vaccines.

"We hope our study will spur creative healthcare policies that minimise the negative spillover effects from people choosing not to be vaccinated, while still respecting patients' right to make informed choices."

With sharps safety devices increasing in sophistication and availability in recent years, there is no reason for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to not encourage more adult patients to be vaccinated against some of the most easily-preventable diseases.

Although some individuals are concerned about the safety of injections, medical professionals should reassure them by explaining research in favour of the benefits of vaccinations, alongside demonstrating how they can use syringe safety caps and other measures to reduce the risk of a needlestick.