Two vaccines for over-60s would boost health and economy – study

A nurse giving a vaccine to an elderly person
Photo: depositphotos

The Netherlands stands to save a net €590 million in healthcare costs by vaccinating over-60s against two diseases that mainly occur in later life, a study has found.

Research institute SiRM (Strategies in Related Markets) carried out a cost-benefit analysis of immunising the older population against shingles and the pneumococcal bacteria, which causes respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia.

The study was commissioned and funded by pharmaceutical firm GSK, one of the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers, which claims to deliver 1.5 million vaccine doses a day.

But health economist Bram Wouterse, of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, told the research was “generally pretty sound”.

Other advisory bodies, such as the health council (Gezondheidsraad) and Zorginstituut Nederland, have also called on the government to broaden out its vaccination programme because of the benefits to public health.

Economic benefits

SiRM calculated that a 72% take-up rate of the pneumococcus vaccine would prevent 13,000 cases of illness in the over-60s per year and add a total of 2,300 years of good health, known as QALYs.

The benefits to the economy in terms of lower healthcare costs and less absence from work amounted to a net €370 million once the costs of the vaccine and administering it have been taken into account, SiRM found.

For the shingles vaccine, SiRM assumed a take-up rate of 67%, which would save 35,000 cases of illness and save a net €220 million.

Less conservative estimates of the take-up rate, as well as adjusting for inflation, would increase the financial benefits, SiRM said.

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