Costs of routine immunization and the introduction of new and underutilized vaccines in Ghana

Vaccine. 2015 May 7:33 Suppl 1:A40-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.12.081.


Background: Limited knowledge exists on the full cost of routine immunization in Africa. Ghana was the first African country to simultaneously introduce rotavirus, pneumococcal and measles second-dose vaccines. Given their high price, it would be beneficial to Ghanaian health authorities to know the true cost of their introduction.

Methods: The economic costs of routine immunization for 2011 and the incremental costs of new vaccines were assessed as part of a multi-country study on costing and financing of routine immunization known as the Expanded Program on Immunization Costing (EPIC). Immunization delivery costs were evaluated at the local facility, district, regional, and central levels. Stratified random sampling was used for district and facility selection. We calculated the allocation of nationwide costs to the four health-system levels.

Results: The total aggregated national costs for routine immunization - including vaccine costs - equaled US$ 53.5 million during 2011 (including central, regional, and district costs); this equated to US$ 60.3 per fully immunized child (FIC) when counting vaccine costs, or US$ 48.1 without. National immunization program delivery costs were allocated as follows: local facility level, 85% of total national cost; district, 11%; central, 2% and regional, 2%. Salaried labor represented 61% of total costs, and vaccines represented 17%. For new vaccine introduction, programmatic start-up costs amounted to US$ 3.9 million, primarily due to salaried labor (66%). The mean facility-level cost per vaccine dose administered in a routine immunization program was US$ 5.1 (with a range of US$ 2.4-7.8 depending on facility characteristics) and US$ 3.7 for delivery costs.

Discussion: We identified a high cost per fully immunized child, mostly due to non-vaccine costs at the facility level, which indicates that immunization program financing - whether national or donor-driven - must take a broad viewpoint. This substantial variation in overall costs emphasizes the additional effort associated with reaching children in various settings.

Keywords: Costs; Fully immunized child; Ghana; Immunization; Underutilized vaccines.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Facilities / economics*
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Administration / economics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Vaccination / economics*
  • Vaccination / methods