Objective: To estimate the economic costs and benefits of routine childhood vaccination against varicella infection.
Design: Decision-analytic model of the incidence and costs of chickenpox in children assumed to receive varicella vaccine at age 15 months in conjunction with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or not to be vaccinated against varicella.
Patients: Hypothetical cohort of 100,000 children.
Main outcome measures: Costs of vaccination, cumulative incidence of chickenpox to age 25 years, and related disease costs, including medical treatment and work loss.
Results: Vaccination of 100,000 children against varicella at age 15 months would cost $4,812,000. The expected number of cases of chickenpox to age 25 years would be reduced from 95,400 to 4800; costs of medical treatment and work loss would correspondingly decline by $1,678,000 and $9,781,000, respectively. On balance, vaccination is estimated to yield net economic benefits of $6,647,000, or $66.47 per vaccinee.
Conclusion: Vaccination against varicella infection is cost-effective and should be part of the routine immunization schedule for U.S. children.