Objectives: To review the existing health economic literature on meningococcal disease vaccination.
Methods: A Medline search for economic evaluations of vaccination programs for meningococcal disease in developed countries was conducted. All identified studies were reviewed.
Results: Nine published studies were identified examining either mass vaccination during outbreaks or routine vaccination. Although net expenses were estimated in almost all studies, the resulting cost-effectiveness ratios varied widely. Vaccination of college-age students was found to be potentially cost-effective in Australia but not in the United States. With one exception, routine vaccination of children and adolescents in Europe was predicted to be cost-effective. Many simplifying assumptions were made, and important elements were often left out, in particular the potential for reduced transmission of disease.
Conclusions: The methods used and the vaccination strategies vary widely, and results do not provide strong grounds for making conclusions as to whether vaccination is cost-effective. Furthermore, in all instances, transmission of disease, changes in population carriage rates, and outbreaks are either ignored, dealt with using very broad simplifying assumptions, or are not necessarily generalizable to other settings. The analyses provide some insight into the potential cost-effectiveness of vaccination, but more importantly, they highlight areas requiring further study. Economic evaluations based on observed outcomes from recently implemented strategies would be helpful, as would more sophisticated health economic models. The choice of vaccination strategies cannot be based on the results of existing economic analyses.