Newall, A. T., Reyes, J. F., Wood, J. G., Beutels, P., McIntyre, P., & Menzies, R. (2014). Economic evaluations of implemented vaccination programmes: key methodological challenges in retrospective analyses. Vaccine. 32(7):759-65. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.11.067
Post-implementation evaluation should play an important role in assessing the success of public health programmes; however, the value for money achieved by vaccine programmes after introduction has received relatively little attention to date. In this article we explore the methodological challenges in these analyses and offer direction for future evaluations in the area. We identify alternative approaches to addressing these challenges, which include the estimation of disease changes attributable to vaccination efforts, the hypothetical no vaccination comparator scenario and the full benefit achieved by implemented vaccination programmes. We also outline other important considerations such as the evolution of prices over time. Further work needs to be done to explore these issues and to determine how the application of different approaches may impact on the results of evaluations in various circumstances. As retrospective analyses are likely to become more frequent and influential, it is important that both the benefits and the limitations of post-implementation evaluations are recognised and understood. We argue that it would be useful to establish a methodological framework to provide standards and guidance on how to undertake such analyses in the future.