Whilst policymakers across different countries often consider factors such as clinical outcomes and disease burden, the ways in which these are measured differ substantially between studies and are not always transparent. Also relatively few decision making processes place any importance on equity or impact on carers, and none consider the peace of mind resulting from vaccination. Experts also found that the unpredictability of meningococcal disease made it harder to measure the full range of benefits gained from preventing it.
There is a need for further discussion about improving the valuation of health loss in children and how we can account for public preference when decision making bodies such as the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation consider the cost effectiveness of vaccines, say disease experts.
Linda Glennie, Director of Research at MRF said: “We recommend a more sophisticated analysis of the benefits of meningococcal vaccines when considering whether to include them in the programme. When deciding which vaccines should be funded, in order to make consistent, transparent and fair decisions, a core set of principles could be developed with extra criteria varying among countries as long as the process is transparent.
“Quantifying the health benefits gained from preventing meningococcal disease is complex. Further consideration is needed of how we can adequately value vaccines which prevent rare, severe childhood illness and how we can incorporate public preference and other benefits of vaccination such as peace of mind into the analysis. Continuing to ignore these factors will lead to an incomplete analysis of the benefits of immunisation against all diseases and particularly meningococcal disease.”