Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Vaccines: The Best Shot for Children and Economies

February 09, 2016

A recent issue of Health Affairs launched online on February 8, 2016 offers good news for vaccination in 94 low- and middle-income countries.

A study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that net economic benefits of vaccination, in terms of additional productivity and treatment cost savings, for the Decade of Vaccines (2011 through 2020) will be 16 times the investment, with total benefits valued at $586 billion. If broader economic benefits are considered (value of a better life), the return on investment reaches $44 for every $1 invested. ...the return on investment reaches $44 for every $1 invested.

The study also finds variation in return on investment by region and vaccine. This variation is driven by a series of assumptions about future prices of vaccines, timing of vaccine introductions, disease burden, and other factors that are likely to change over the Decade.  Net benefits are projected to be greater than costs for all antigens and regions, reflecting favorable returns.  This analysis was designed to be interpreted in the aggregate across countries over the decade, because of the assumptions and uncertainties embedded within them.

In the same issue of Health Affairs, a study on costing and financing of routine immunization in six countries (EPIC) finds that government expenditures for immunization are more than half of total immunization expenditures—a figure which is higher than previously estimated. Most immunization resources in these countries are managed by governments and are utilized at the primary health care level. This means that resources are more likely to reach providers administering vaccines rather than go program administration.

Tracking immunization expenditures will be important to understand trends in government financing of immunization, as well as to determine whether available funding meets resource requirements. While important, data limitations make resource tracking challenging to undertake, and financial data systems need to be strengthened. 

For more information on costs and financing of immunization, as well as for links to these papers go to

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