Interdisciplinary Epidemiologic and Economic Research Needed to Support a Universal Childhood Influenza Vaccination Policy

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Abstract

Recent research indicates that influenza vaccination of children may decrease the influenza disease burden in adults to a greater extent than targeting vaccination to populations at high risk of serious disease. Possible new policies reflecting these results would add groups most likely to transmit disease to existing vaccination recommendations. Interdisciplinary research combining epidemiology with economics is needed to answer critical questions about the desirability and feasibility of potential new policies, such as what additional resources medical providers might need to expand vaccination to larger groups or what opportunity costs parents might incur in vaccinating their children annually. In this paper, the authors provide background for some of the changes in influenza vaccination rates and disease and discuss existing information gaps and research methods capable of closing these gaps. They provide several examples of interdisciplinary studies that have incorporated both economics and epidemiology or health policy issues. These studies are representative of a variety of stakeholder perspectives needed to determine whether community-based, universal childhood vaccination policies would be more efficacious and cost-effective than strategies targeted toward persons at high risk of disease complications.

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