Ontario's universal influenza program

Apr 06, 2010

A universal program to provide free influenza vaccination to everyone in Ontario, Canada is economically attractive compared to vaccination programs in other Canadian provinces targeting people at high risk of influenza, according to an analysis published in PLoS Medicine this week.

Beate Sander of the University of Toronto and colleagues evaluated the health outcomes and costs of Ontario's program which since 2000 has offered everyone over six months of age a free influenza vaccination. Their appraisal follows a 2008 study also published in PLoS Medicine showing that after the introduction of the universal program in Ontario vaccination rates increased, deaths from influenza decreased and influenza-related use of health care facilities decreased in comparison with the provinces with targeted programs. Most Canadian provinces target free vaccination programs only at people aged 65 years or older, those with chronic medical conditions or health care workers - all groups that are at high risk of influenza complications.

The researchers compared uptake, physician visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths from influenza in Ontario and nine other Canadian provinces between 1997 and 2004. Ontario's universal program cost about twice as much as the targeted , but the researchers estimate that it reduced the number of influenza cases by two thirds and the number of influenza deaths by more than a quarter. The researchers calculated that the additional expenditure required to generate a year of perfect health - expressed as cost per quality-adjusted-life-year (QALY) - in Ontario 's universal program was approximately Can$11,000 per QALY gained, a figure that would be considered cost-effective in high-income countries such as Canada.

The researchers conclude that Ontario's universal program is economically attractive - reducing the number of influenza cases and deaths and reducing health resources used. They acknowledge that province-specific epidemiological and health care factors may have influenced the size of this effect. But given the findings, the researchers suggest that universal vaccination programs may be an appealing intervention in other Canadian provinces and in high-income jurisdictions with transmission rates and similar to those in Ontario.

Explore further: Obama addresses West Africans on facts about Ebola

More information: Sander B, Kwong JC, Bauch CT, Maetzel A, McGeer A, et al. (2010) Economic Appraisal of Ontario's Universal Influenza Immunization Program: A Cost-Utility Analysis. PLoS Med 7(4): e1000256. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000256

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Universal influenza vaccination may reduce antibiotic use

Aug 20, 2009

We all know that influenza vaccination helps prevent disease, but a new study from Canada suggests it may also prevent another public health problem: inappropriate antibiotic use. The findings come from a new study in the ...

Predicting effectiveness of flu vaccination campaigns

Feb 09, 2010

A new study, published by Elsevier this month in Vaccine, describes a new method that assesses the impact and cost-effectiveness of a range of vaccination options. The model was applied to the 2009 Influenza H1N1 outbreak and pr ...

Recommended for you

Obama addresses West Africans on facts about Ebola

16 minutes ago

President Barack Obama urged West Africans on Tuesday to wear gloves and masks when caring for Ebola patients or burying anyone who died of the disease. He also discouraged the traditional burial practice ...

Gluten-free diet benefits asymptomatic EmA+ adults

20 minutes ago

(HealthDay)—Asymptomatic individuals with endomysial antibodies (EmA) benefit from a gluten-free diet (GFD), according to a study published in the September issue of Gastroenterology.

Another US health worker infected with Ebola

37 minutes ago

A third American health worker has tested positive for the Ebola virus while working with patients in West Africa, the Christian missionary group SIM said Tuesday.

UN implores all countries to help on Ebola

2 hours ago

The international group Doctor Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is 'losing the battle' against Ebola, while U.N. officials implored all countries to quickly step up their response by contributing health experts ...

Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

7 hours ago

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

User comments : 0