Background: Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of the main causes of bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, pneumonia, and otitis media in the Netherlands. These diseases lead to substantial mortality, morbidity, and costs. The societal impact is especially severe because most cases occur in very young infants.
Objective: The aim of this study was to estimate the epidemiological impact and cost-effectiveness of universal infant vaccination with a 7-valent conjugated pneumococcal vaccine in the Netherlands.
Methods: Decision analysis was performed using epidemiological data and data on health care resource use from 1996 to 2001. A model was used to project the impact of pneumococcal vaccination on the incidence of pneumococcal infections in infants and children from birth to age 10 years. Costs, benefits, and health gains were estimated, and cost-effectiveness was calculated. All analyses were performed from a societal perspective.
Results: On average, 339 cases per year of invasive pneumococcal infection occurred in infants and children from birth to age 10 years in the Netherlands from 1996 to 2001. The model predicted that introduction of the 7-valent conjugated pneumococcal vaccine would prevent 48 cases of bacterial meningitis and 88 cases of pneumococcal bacteremia per year, as well as 42,695 cases of pneumococcal otitis media and 3411 cases of invasive pneumococcal pneumonia. The model also predicted that vaccination would save 13 lives per year and prevent 31 cases of lifelong sequelae, rendering 382 discounted quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) gained or 329 discounted life-years gained per year. Considering these health gains, vaccination would prevent Euro 9,453,600 of direct and indirect medical costs of meningococcal and pneumococcal infections in the Netherlands, including acute medical care, management of sequelae, and lost time at work. With a vaccine price of Euro 40 per dose, the base-case cost-effectiveness ratio would be Euro 71,250 per QALY. The model was sensitive to changes in incidence of infections, vaccine effectiveness, and vaccine price.
Conclusions: Our analytic model predicted that universal pneumococcal vaccination of infants in the Netherlands could prevent a large number of pneumococcal infections and considerably reduce related mortality and morbidity. However, the baseline cost-effectiveness ratio of such a vaccination program would be relatively unfavorable compared with other interventions implemented in the Netherlands.