The cost of vaccines

6th June 2018

Long awaited Cost-Effective Report threatens meningitis vaccines programme

The cost of vaccines

Meningitis Now has criticised a much-awaited report on the cost-effectiveness of vaccines, identifying it as a potential risk to the future of the UK’s lifesaving meningitis vaccine programme.

Commenting on the publication of the long-awaited report known as CEMIPP (Cost-Effectiveness Methodology for Immunisation Programmes & Procurement), we made clear our opposition to the report’s recommendations in a meeting in April with Health Minister Steven Brine MP.  In particular, we stressed that the report’s recommendations fail to address the concerns of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), who had in 2013 recommended that a review take place to consider ‘how to create fairer access to vaccines that protect children from rare diseases of high severity’.

Far from addressing these concerns, the report has been hijacked by health economists as a way of saving money. The report, which was published in February, makes it clear that if three of its 27 recommendations were implemented it would ‘likely make vaccination programmes less cost-effective at current prices’.

Dr Tom Nutt, CEO at Meningitis now said: “The recommendations of this important report have taken a totally different direction from the original intention, and potentially threaten the viability of life saving vaccinations such as Men B.”

In addition, we are concerned that implementation of the report’s recommendations could signal a change in health policy from spending to prevent illness; to one of spending to treat patients once they become ill. 

The 823,000 people who signed a petition seeking to extend the Men B vaccine, following the sad death of Faye Burdett in 2016, will be disappointed by this report.  During a debate in parliament, they were told that a decision to extend the vaccine would not be made in advance of the CEMIPP report being published.  In doing this, it created a beacon of hope for this group - hope that is now likely to be dashed.    

Whilst the report makes 27 recommendations, it highlights three key areas that could be implemented immediately. Of these, two (the ‘cost-effectiveness threshold’ and ‘time horizons’) would act to make vaccines less cost effective.  The third (the discount rates) is something that we, along with other experts and charities, have argued should be included in vaccine assessment as they include things such as the impact on families and peace of mind. 

Commenting further on the report, Dr Tom Nutt said:

“Having supported the JCVI’s recommendations to review cost effectiveness of vaccines to protect children from serious diseases in 2013/14, we are deeply disappointed by this report and would ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to reject it and consider implementing the one recommendation that will fulfil its original this aim - the reduction in discounting. I would also ask him to give some assurances that the CEMIPP report will not threaten current meningitis vaccines or the NHS’s lifesaving immunisation programme.”  

In its original format, the report is a highly technical document. To ensure that as many people as possible understand its recommendations, we have been working with the Department for Health and Social Care in the creation of an easier-to-read and understand version, a copy of which can viewed and downloaded here: Cost effectiveness methodology for vaccination programmes.

Have your say in the consultation process by emailing us and sharing your views, where they will be included in our formal submission and directly with government: Immunisation and high-consequence infectious diseases.

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