According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, providing universal meningitis vaccination against infection may be too costly to justify cases it would prevent.
Meningitis vaccination is highly effective but prevents only a small number of cases. Developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA, a computer-generated model adds to evidence that providing vaccination against meningitis B infection to students entering university may be too costly to justify the absolute number of cases it would prevent.
The study also suggests that if vaccine developers could significantly lower the price, universal vaccination might be worth requiring on university campuses.
Making vaccinations available for all
Ira Leeds, lead study author, M.D., M.B.A., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Surgery at the University explains: “Despite the poor prognosis of meningitis B infection and the fairly reasonable cost of meningitis B (MenB) vaccination, the extreme rarity of this infection even amongst its peak in college-age individuals makes universal vaccination cost-ineffective.”
“Vaccinating 100,000 college students, for example, would prevent less than five cases of MenB.”
“Health care systems and public health programs do not have unlimited funds and such a small benefit makes support of universal vaccination economically untenable, even when accounting for individual, payer and community outbreak costs and productivity lost by society.”
The researchers found that the computer model predicted a nonformal vaccination program was more cost-effective than universal vaccination from both the health sector and societal perspectives.
The study highlights the notion that universal meningitis vaccination should be provided by campuses before an outbreak occurs, as the cost would be much lower and cost affective to administer. Whereas administering the meningitis vaccine after an outbreak would be millions of dollars.
What do you know about meningitis?
Meningitis B is the most common form of meningococcal infection in young adults in the United States, with about 600 to 1,000 cases reported each year.
The infectious disease affects only 30 per 100,000 U.S. college students, according to 2017 data gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meningitis, however, is serious, and could potentially cause severe inflammation of the brain and spine, and death in a small number of people.
The researchers emphasised that MenB vaccine is safe and effective and should remain accessible and an individual option. In addition, they say, those at high risk are because of compromised immune systems or other pre-existing medical conditions and therefore should consider vaccination.