School-located vaccination against influenza (SLV-I) has the potential to improve current suboptimal influenza immunization coverage for U.S. school-aged children. However, little is known about SLV-I's cost-effectiveness. The objective of this study is to establish the cost-effectiveness of SLV-I based on a two-year community-based randomized controlled trial (Year 1: 2009-2010 vaccination season, an unusual H1N1 pandemic influenza season, and Year 2: 2010-2011, a more typical influenza season).
We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis on a two-year randomized controlled trial of a Western New York SLV-I program. SLV-I clinics were offered in 21 intervention elementary schools (Year 1 n = 9,027; Year 2 n = 9,145 children) with standard-of-care (no SLV-I) in control schools (Year 1 n = 4,534 (10 schools); Year 2 n = 4,796 children (11 schools)). We estimated the cost-per-vaccinated child, by dividing the incremental cost of the intervention by the incremental effectiveness (i.e., the number of additionally vaccinated students in intervention schools compared to control schools).
In Years 1 and 2, respectively, the effectiveness measure (proportion of children vaccinated) was 11.2 and 12.0 percentage points higher in intervention (40.7 % and 40.4 %) than control schools. In year 2, the cost-per-vaccinated child excluding vaccine purchase ($59.88 in 2010 US $) consisted of three component costs: (A) the school costs ($8.25); (B) the project coordination costs ($32.33); and (C) the vendor costs excluding vaccine purchase ($16.68), summed through Monte Carlo simulation. Compared to Year 1, the two component costs (A) and (C) decreased, while the component cost (B) increased in Year 2. The cost-per-vaccinated child, excluding vaccine purchase, was $59.73 (Year 1) and $59.88 (Year 2, statistically indistinguishable from Year 1), higher than the published cost of providing influenza vaccination in medical practices ($39.54). However, taking indirect costs (e.g., averted parental costs to visit medical practices) into account, vaccination was less costly in SLV-I ($23.96 in Year 1, $24.07 in Year 2) than in medical practices.
Our two-year trial's findings reinforced the evidence to support SLV-I as a potentially favorable system to increase childhood influenza vaccination rates in a cost-efficient way. Increased efficiencies in SLV-I are needed for a sustainable and scalable SLV-I program.