The unattainable criteria for new infant vaccines

Christopher J. Gill, Lauren Hodsdon, Mathuram Santosham, Katherine L. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Background. In 2013, the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) opted against adding meningococcal vaccines to the infant schedule due to poor cost-effectiveness. This raises a policy question: if meningococcal disease is too rare to justify routine vaccination, are there other vaccine-preventable causes of US infant deaths that could be supported? Methods. We tabulated US infant deaths from 2009–2013 using the CDC WONDER database. These causes of death were then categorized into one of 3 categories: 1) vaccine-preventable using currently available interventions; 2) potentially vaccine-preventable within the next 10 years; and 3) not preventable. Results. From 19.8 million births (3.9 million/year), ∼122,000 infants died (0.62%). Of these, 181 (0.15% of all deaths) were preventable using currently available vaccines, while an additional 779 were categorized as potentially preventable in the next 10 y. By exclusion, 121,040 (99.2%) were judged ‘not vaccine-preventable’. Meningococcal deaths contributed at most 0.03% of all infant deaths, but accounted for 17–34% of current vaccine-preventable deaths. Conclusions. The low number of vaccine-preventable deaths in the US makes it increasingly difficult to justify the introduction of any new infant vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1187
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 4 2018


  • ACIP
  • cost-effectiveness
  • infant mortality
  • meningitis
  • meningococcal vaccine
  • vaccines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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