On sample sizes to estimate the protective efficacy of a vaccine

Stat Med. 1988 Dec;7(12):1279-88. doi: 10.1002/sim.4780071208.


To estimate vaccine protective efficacy, defined as VE = 1 - ARV/ARU where ARV is the disease attack rate in the vaccinated group and ARU is the disease attack rate in the controls, investigators have used both cohort and case-control designs. For each design, we present a method for calculation of the sample size required to provide an approximate confidence interval for VE of predetermined width and probability of coverage. The required sample size is a function of the desired width of the confidence interval, the probability of coverage, the assumed VE, and, for cohort designs, the assumed disease attack rate in the controls, and for case-control designs, the assumed vaccine exposure prevalence for the controls.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Research Design*
  • Vaccines / standards*


  • Vaccines