Could a federal program to promote influenza vaccination among elders be cost-effective?

Mitesh S. Patel, Matthew M. Davis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background. Influenza-related mortality predominately and disproportionately impacts the elderly. Rates of annual influenza vaccination among the elderly are approximately 65%, far below the Healthy People 2010 target of 90%. We estimated the cost-effectiveness of a 10-year federal program to promote influenza vaccine, intended to increase vaccination rates among persons ≥65 years old. Methods. Published estimates regarding influenza-associated mortality rates and vaccine efficacy among the US elderly were used to calculate the number needed to vaccinate (NNV) to prevent one all-cause death due to influenza, as well as the mortality reduction expected from increased vaccination rates. The costs per life-year saved were estimated for a hypothetical federal promotional campaign, patterned after a direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising program (2006-2015). The base case scenario presumed a 25-percentage-point increase in vaccination rates to 90%; in sensitivity analyses, we examined programs that increased rates by 10-20 points. Results. The base case NNV was 1116 (95% CI: 993-1348). Over the 10-year DTC-style influenza vaccine promotion program, 6516 (5576-7435) elderly lives would be saved. The incremental cost-effectiveness (C/E) of the program was $16,300 ($11,347-$25,174) per life-year saved in 2006 and increased to $199,906 ($138,613-$307,423) per life-year saved by 2015. Overall, the C/E for the 10-year program was $37,621 ($32,644-$43,939) per life-year saved. Programs that yielded a 15-percentage-point increase or less in vaccination rates would have C/E values exceeding $50,000 per life-year saved and save fewer than 4000 total lives. Conclusions. DTC-style promotional campaigns for influenza vaccine among elders may represent a cost-effective strategy for the federal government to pursue as a means of increasing elders' vaccination rates and reducing influenza-related mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-246
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006


  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Direct-to-consumer advertising
  • Elders
  • Influenza
  • Mortality
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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