Background: Influenza vaccination recently has been recommended for children 6-23 months old, but is not currently recommended for routine use in non-high-risk older children. Information on disease impact, costs, benefits, risks, and community preferences could help guide decisions about which age and risk groups should be vaccinated and strategies for improving coverage. The objective of this study was to measure preferences and willingness-to-pay for changes in health-related quality of life associated with uncomplicated influenza and two rarely-occurring vaccination-related adverse events (anaphylaxis and Guillain-Barré syndrome) in children.
Methods: We conducted telephone interviews with adult members selected at random from a large New England HMO (n = 112). Respondents were given descriptions of four health outcomes: uncomplicated influenza in a hypothetical 1-year-old child of their own, uncomplicated influenza in a hypothetical 14-year-old child of their own, anaphylaxis following vaccination, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. "Uncomplicated influenza" did not require a physician's visit or hospitalization. Preferences (values) for these health outcomes were measured using time-tradeoff and willingness-to-pay questions. Time-tradeoff questions asked the adult to assume they had a child and to consider how much time from the end of their own life they would be willing to surrender to avoid the health outcome in the child.
Results: Respondents said they would give a median of zero days of their lives to prevent an episode of uncomplicated influenza in either their (hypothetical) 1-year-old or 14-year-old, 30 days to prevent an episode of vaccination-related anaphylaxis, and 3 years to prevent a vaccination-related case of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Median willingness-to-pay to prevent uncomplicated influenza in a 1-year-old was $175, uncomplicated influenza in a 14-year-old was $100, anaphylaxis $400, and Guillain-Barré syndrome $4000. The median willingness-to-pay for an influenza vaccination for their children with no risk of anaphylaxis or Guillain-Barré syndrome was $50 and $100, respectively.
Conclusion: Most respondents said they would not be willing to trade any time from their own lives to prevent uncomplicated influenza in a child of their own, and the time traded did not vary by the age of the hypothetical affected child. However, adults did indicate a willingness-to-pay to prevent uncomplicated influenza in children, and that they would give more money to prevent the illness in a 1-year-old than in a 14-year-old. Respondents also indicated a willingness to pay a premium for a vaccine without any risk of severe complications.