Objectives: The Council of the European Union (EU) has recommended that action should be taken to increase influenza vaccination in the elderly population. The aims were to systematically review and critically appraise economic evaluations for influenza vaccination in the elderly population in the EU.
Methods: Electronic searches of the NHS Economic Evaluation, Health Technology Assessment, MEDLINE and Embase databases were run to identify full economic evaluations. Two levels of screening were used, with explicit inclusion criteria applied by two independent reviewers at each stage. Pre-specified data extraction and critical appraisal were performed on identified studies. Results were summarised qualitatively.
Results: Of the 326 search results, screening identified 8 relevant studies. Results varied widely, with the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio ranging from being both more effective and cheaper than no intervention to costing €459,350 per life-year gained. Cost-effectiveness was most sensitive to variations in influenza strain, vaccination type and strategy, population and modelling characteristics.
Conclusions: Most studies suggest that vaccination is cost-effective (7/8 studies identified at least one cost-effective scenario). All but one study used economic models to synthesise data from different sources. The results are uncertain due to the methods used and the relevance and robustness of the data used. Sensitivity analysis to explore these aspects was limited. Integrated, controlled prospective clinical and economic evaluations and surveillance data are needed to improve the evidence base. This would allow more advanced modelling techniques to characterise the epidemiology of influenza more accurately and improve the robustness of cost-effectiveness estimates.