Background. Routine childhood hepatitis A immunization is recommended in regions with incidence rates twice the national average, but it may be cost-effective in a wider geographic area.
Objective. To evaluate the costs and benefits of potential hepatitis A immunization of healthy US children in regions with varying hepatitis A incidences.
Methods. We considered vaccination of the 2000 US birth cohort in states defined by historic hepatitis A incidence rates. Infections among potential vaccinees and their personal contacts were predicted from age 2 through 85 years. Net vaccination costs were estimated from health system and societal perspectives and were compared with life-years saved and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained using a 3% discount rate.
Results. Nationally vaccination would prevent >75 000 cases of overt hepatitis A disease. Approximately two-thirds of health benefits would accrue to personal contacts rather than to vaccinees themselves. In states with incidence rates of ≥200%, 100 to 199%, 50 to 99% and <50% the national average, societal costs per QALY gained would be <$0, <$0, $13 800 and $63 000, respectively. Nationally vaccination would cost $9100 per QALY gained from the perspective of the health system and $1400 per QALY gained from society’s perspective. Results are most sensitive to vaccination costs and rates of disease transmission through personal contact.
Conclusion. Childhood hepatitis A vaccination is most cost-effective in areas with the highest incidence rates but would also meet accepted standards of economic efficiency in most of the US. A national immunization policy would prevent substantial morbidity and mortality, with cost effectiveness similar to that of other childhood immunizations.
From Capitol Outcomes Research, Inc., Alexandria, VA (RJJ, ASM); the Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Division of Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (DPG); the Division of Gastroenterology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA (RSK); and the Departments of Medicine and Surgery, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA (SS).
Accepted for publication July 16, 2003.
*Current address: Roche Laboratories, Nutley, NJ.
Address for reprints: R. Jake Jacobs, Research Director, Capitol Outcomes Research, Inc., 6188 Old Franconia Road, Alexandria, VA 22310. Fax 703-922-1853; E-mail Jake.Jacobs@CapitolOutcomesResearch.com.