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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2001 Jun;25(3):222-9.

An economic evaluation of universal infant vaccination against hepatitis B virus using a combination vaccine (Hib-HepB): a decision analytic approach to cost effectiveness.

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Health Economics Unit, Monash University, West Heidelberg, Victoria.



To evaluate the health impact and cost effectiveness of two infant vaccination strategies for protection against hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the Australian population. Vaccinating only high-risk infants, assuming 65% compliance, was compared with universal vaccination of infants using a combination Hib-HepB vaccine, with 87.4% compliance.


A Markov model simulated the natural history of HBV infection and disease in an Australian birth cohort. The cohort was divided into those at high risk of infection (infants born into high-risk families) and low-risk infants. Clinical and epidemiological data used were obtained from published reports and a survey of clinical experts. The model included the health costs associated with acute and chronic HBV infection, and the sequelae of chronic HBV infection.


The model predicted that universal hepatitis B vaccination of an Australian birth cohort (260,000 births) would result in a 77% reduction in cases of HBV infection. The incremental cost per life year gained was $11,862, which is low compared with many other health care interventions. With no discounting of costs or consequences, universal vaccination with the combination vaccine was predicted to save lives and reduce costs.


There is no socially accepted threshold value for cost per life year gained to guide decisions about funding Australian health care interventions. Nevertheless, based on these results, universal hepatitis B vaccination of Australian infants using a combination Hib-HepB vaccine would almost certainly be regarded as a worthwhile investment of public funds.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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