Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stanford researcher shows flu shot benefits outweigh costs in healthy young adults

20.08.2002


Flu shots can save lives, especially among the elderly who account for most of the 20,000 flu-related deaths in the United States each year. But physicians have debated whether vaccinating healthy, younger adults is worth the time and money. The answer is yes, according to a new study based on a computer model. The study was led by Patrick Lee, MD, a resident in internal medicine at Stanford Hospital & Clinics.



"There’s been a lot of debate about optimal treatment strategies," Lee said. "Our study shows that society as a whole benefits if you vaccinate the entire population and use antiviral medications on those who get sick."

Influenza, a viral disease characterized by nasal congestion, dry cough and fever, affects 10 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population each year, with an average of 2.8 work days lost per ill individual. Although anyone can get a flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control recommend vaccination only for specific groups, including the elderly, those with weakened immune systems and health-care workers. Most healthy adults choose not to get flu shots.


In the study, published in the Aug. 20 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Lee and colleagues gathered previously published data on the costs and benefits of flu vaccination and treatment of flu patients with antiviral medication in healthy adults ages 18 to 50. These included costs of the vaccine and drugs, lost work time due to illness and duration of symptom relief from antiviral medications. They also surveyed 210 patients at a family practice clinic about their willingness to pay for flu symptom relief and medication without side effects.

The researchers entered this information into a computer model that subtracted the costs from the benefits to yield a net benefit or cost. They ran the model 1,000 times while systematically changing the data within known limits. For example, the cost of the flu vaccine averages $10.41 but may range from $5 to $20. For each combination of costs and benefits, the computer determined which of eight prevention and treatment strategies was most cost beneficial. The strategies included either vaccination or non-vaccination and, for those who became ill, treatment with one of three antiviral medications, including rimantadine, zanamivir and oseltamivir, or no treatment.

Using the average values for all costs and benefits, the researchers found that the four strategies that included vaccination had an overall savings of about $30 each compared to no vaccination and no treatment with antivirals. Treatment with rimantidine or zanamavir without vaccination had small savings (less than $5); treatment with oseltamivir without vaccination had a cost of 3 cents.

Lee said using a computer model may appear less rigorous because randomized clinical trials are usually the gold standard of medical research. But two previous clinical trials on the costs and benefits of flu vaccinations for healthy adults yielded widely different results. One found a savings of $46.85 per vaccination, while another found costs of $65.59 and $11.17 per vaccination over two seasons.

"Clinical trials are snapshots in time. They look at one flu season and one flu vaccine," Lee said. "In a clinical scenario where variables change over time, randomized clinical trials are not the best way to answer questions."

Using their computer model, Lee and colleagues found that a strategy that included vaccination was optimally cost-beneficial in 95 percent of their 1,000 runs. Non-vaccination became optimal when the probability of contracting the flu was less than 6.3 percent - a very mild flu season.

The study also found that treatment of flu patients with antiviral medications was optimal in 85 percent of the runs. Surprisingly, the older antiviral rimantidine was as effective as the newer drugs zanamivir and oseltamivir. But no drug emerged as a clear winner; the medications need to be compared in head-to-head tests, Lee said.

All three antiviral medications are readily available, but the United States has experienced shortages of the flu vaccine in recent years. The prevalence of different flu strains changes over time, so the two main pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the vaccine make new batches each year based on World Health Organization recommendations. In 2001, fewer than 90 million doses were available in the United States, and shipment of the vaccine to clinics was delayed.

"For most flu seasons, it is cost-beneficial for the whole society to be vaccinated. But, if there’s not enough vaccine to go around, you need to vaccinate those who need it most first," Lee said.


Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.

Amy Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://mednews.stanford.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht High speed video recording precisely measures blood cell velocity
15.11.2017 | ITMO University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>