Background: Varicella is a common pediatric infection. Even if it generally has a benign course, it may complicate and require hospitalization. The aim of our study was to estimate the acute hospitalization cost (AHC) for varicella in the acute phase in a pediatric population.
Methods: We calculated the AHC of pediatric patients admitted for varicella at Bambino Gesù Children Hospital, Rome, Italy, from 1 November 2005 to 1 November 2020.
Results: In the study period, 825 pediatric patients affected by varicella were hospitalized. The mean hospitalization cost was EUR 4015.35 (range from EUR 558.44 to EUR 42,608.00). Among patients, 55% were unvaccinable due to either their age or their immunosuppression status. They would benefit from herd immunity, reducing the overall AHC by EUR 182,196,506. Since the introduction of the compulsory vaccination against varicella in Italy, we observed a significant reduction in AHC cost of 60.6% in 2019 and of 93.5% in 2020. Finally, from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we documented a decline of 81.2% and 76.9% in varicella hospitalization, compared to 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Conclusions: Varicella AHC is an important economic and health assessment point and can be useful for improving preventive strategies.
Keywords: children; cost; hospitalization; varicella.