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Cost is high for Japanese encephalitis vaccinations



Vaccination costs surrounding Japanese encephalitis is high, according to an economic analysis presented at a meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

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Martin Meltzer, MD, a senior health economist at the CDC and his colleagues conducted an economic analysis of vaccination strategies concerning Japanese encephalitis (JE). Using a hypothetical population, the researchers compared cases in vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts of 1 million people. Several assumptions in this hypothetical population were that people followed a primary vaccination schedule; all individuals traveled in year 1 of vaccination, while some individuals traveled again after year 1; and any repeat travelers were assumed to receive a booster dose.

The analytic horizon for this research was 6 years, but productivity losses were evaluated over average life expectancy.

The researchers analyzed their data from two analytic perspectives: societal and traveler perspective. Factors analyzed included vaccine per dose, vaccine administration cost, and vaccine adverse events costs per vaccine.

The researchers assessed the risk to travelers based upon disease incidence among different groups. The highest-risk travelers (Group 1) – those who planned to spend a month or more in JE-endemic areas – had an incidence rate of 0.53/1 million travelers. Group 2 travelers – those who planned to stay less than a month and more than a fifth of their time outdoors – had an incidence rate of 0.25/1 million. Group 3 travelers, at lowest risk, had the lowest incidence rate at 0.04/1 million.

The calculated societal perspective cost per outcome averted was quite high for each risk group. For Group 1, the cost was $596 million per case averted. This cost rose to $1.3 billion for each case of long-term sequelae averted, and rose even higher to avert death, to $1.8 billion per death averted. These costs nearly doubled for Group 2, and in Group 3, the cost ballooned to $7.9 billion to avert one case of JE, $17 billion per prevention of long-term sequelae, and $23 billion per death averted.

The individual costs for JE vaccination are $292 per dose, with an administration fee of $46. Short-term treatment of JE costs nearly $30,000, and long-term treatment of JE also comes with a large bill of $8,437.

These costs are not simply monetary but are also felt in lost economic productivity. The cost of complete short-term recovery is nearly $60,000. Over an individual’s lifetime, this number rose to more than $1.5 million based on total loss of productivity.

Of the 67% of patients who survive JE, 32% recover completely while 68% deal with long-term sequelae. Of those, 28% experience mild symptoms while the remaining 72% have severe sequelae.

JE vaccine effectiveness does not appear to be an issue, with a 0.91 proportion of neutralizing antibodies seen after 1 year. With booster doses, vaccine effectiveness is 0.96.

There are limitations to this study, such as results being affected by the uncertainty of JE incidence. “The single most important variable is incidence,” stated Dr. Meltzer.

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