Vaccination has been among the greatest contributors to the past century's dramatic improvements in health and life expectancy. Recent advances in vaccinology have resulted in new vaccines that will likely lead to substantial future health gains. However, the high cost of these new vaccines, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, poses an obstacle to their widespread adoption in many countries. Economic evaluation can help to determine if investment in vaccine introduction is worthwhile. However, existing economic evaluations usually focus on a narrow set of vaccination-mediated benefits-most notably avoided medical-care costs-and fail to account for several categories of potentially important gains. We consider three sources of such benefit and discuss them with respect to HPV vaccination: (i) outcome-related productivity gains, (ii) behaviour-related productivity gains, and (iii) externalities. We also highlight that HPV vaccination protects against more than just cervical cancer and that these other health gains should be taken into account. Failing to account for these broader benefits of HPV vaccination could result in substantial underestimation of the value of HPV vaccination, thereby leading to ill-founded decisions regarding its introduction into national immunization programmes.
© 2012 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection © 2012 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.