BACKGROUND. Economic assessments that guide policy making on immunizations are becoming increasingly important in light of new and anticipated vaccines for adolescents. However, important considerations that limit the utility of these assessments, such as the diversity of approaches used, are often overlooked and should be better understood.
OBJECTIVE. Our goal was to examine economic studies of adolescent vaccines and compare cost-effectiveness outcomes among studies on a particular vaccine, across adolescent vaccines, and between new adolescent vaccines versus vaccines that are recommended for young children.
METHODS. A systematic review of economic studies on immunizations for adolescents was conducted. Studies were identified by searching the Medline, Embase, and EconLit databases. Each study was reviewed for appropriateness of model design, baseline setup, sensitivity analyses, and input variables (ie, epidemiologic, clinical, cost, and quality-of-life impact). For comparison, the cost-effectiveness outcomes reported in key studies on vaccines for younger children were selected.
RESULTS. Vaccines for healthy adolescents were consistently found to be more costly than the health care or societal cost savings they produced and, in general, were less cost-effective than vaccines for younger children. Among the new vaccines, pertussis and human papillomavirus vaccines were more cost-effective than meningococcal vaccines. Including herd-immunity benefits in studies significantly improved the cost-effectiveness estimates for new vaccines. Differences in measurements or assumptions limited further comparisons.
CONCLUSION. Although using the new adolescent vaccines is unlikely to be cost-saving, vaccination programs will result in sizable health benefits.