Objective: To evaluate the economic impact of the routine US childhood immunization schedule: diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis; tetanus and diphtheria toxoids; Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate; inactivated poliovirus; measles, mumps, and rubella; hepatitis B; and varicella vaccines.
Design: Decision tree-based analysis was conducted using population-based vaccination coverage, published vaccine efficacies, historical data on disease incidence before vaccination, and disease incidence reported for 1995-2001. Costs were estimated using the direct cost and societal (direct and indirect costs) perspectives. Program costs included vaccine, administration, vaccine-associated adverse events, and parent travel and time lost. All costs were inflated to 2001 US dollars, and all costs and benefits in the future were discounted at a 3% annual rate.
Participants: A hypothetical 2001 US birth cohort of 3,803,295 infants was followed up from birth through death.
Main outcome measures: Net present value (net savings) and benefit-cost ratios of routine immunization.
Results: Routine childhood immunization with the 7 vaccines was cost saving from the direct cost and societal perspectives, with net savings of 9.9 billion dollars and 43.3 billion dollars, respectively. Without routine vaccination, direct and societal costs of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, H influenzae type b, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, congenital rubella syndrome, hepatitis B, and varicella would be 12.3 billion dollars and 46.6 billion dollars, respectively. Direct and societal costs for the vaccination program were an estimated 2.3 billion dollars and 2.8 billion dollars, respectively. Direct and societal benefit-cost ratios for routine childhood vaccination were 5.3 and 16.5, respectively.
Conclusion: Regardless of the perspective, the current routine childhood immunization schedule results in substantial cost savings.