The cost-effectiveness of varicella screening and vaccination in U.S. Army recruits

M. René Howell, Terrence Lee, Charlotte A. Gaydos, Roberto N. Nang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Varicella outbreaks in the U.S. Army disrupt training, reduce readiness, and represent substantial costs. Vaccination of susceptible individuals may be cost-effective. We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis comparing screening of all incoming recruits and vaccination of susceptible individuals at either initial entry training (IET) or medical entrance processing station (MEPS), universal vaccination at IET, and no intervention. Primary health outcomes included the number of varicella cases prevented during the 8-week initial training period. The varicella hospitalization rate was 21.6 per 10,000 per year. In 100,000 recruits, 36 cases of varicella are expected at a cost of $181,000 in the absence of an intervention. Screening at IET would prevent 4 cases but would cost an additional $3,255,000 more than no intervention. Screening at MEPS would prevent 3 cases and save $521,000 per case prevented during the IET but would cost $2,734,000 more than no intervention. Universal vaccination would prevent 2 cases but would cost $15,858,000 more than MEPS screening and $18,592,000 more than no intervention. These results are robust. Cost per case of varicella prevented ranged from $390,000 to $7.9 million. Scarce prevention resources could be more cost-effectively allocated to other prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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