A review of the literature on the economics of vaccination against TB

H.A. Tu*, H.D. Vu, M.H. Rozenbaum, H.J. Woerdenbag, M.J. Postma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The BCG vaccine was introduced in 1921 and remains the only licensed vaccine for the prevention of TB worldwide. Despite its extensive use, the BCG vaccine lacks the ability to fully control the TB-endemic and -pandemic situations. The BCG vaccine is most effective in preventing pediatric TB, in particular, miliary TB and tuberculous meningitis. However, it has a limited effect in preventing pulmonary TB, which occurs more frequently in adults. BCG vaccination has now been implemented in more than 157 countries worldwide. For various countries, the benefits of vaccination are only limited and potentially not cost effective. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases had set the criteria for discontinuation of BCG vaccination in 1994. This decision, however, was not based on economic considerations. Many developed countries have met the criteria set by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and stopped universal BCG vaccination. For developing countries, the BCG vaccine is still an effective intervention in protecting young children from TB infection. A lot of effort has been spent on R&D of new TB vaccines, the first of which are expected to be available within 5-7 years from now. Novel TB vaccines are expected to be better and more effective than the current BCG vaccine and should provide a viable strategy in controlling TB morbidity and mortality. In this review, the aim is to explore economic evaluations that have been carried out for vaccination against TB worldwide. In addition to epidemiological evidence, economic evidence can play a crucial role in supporting the governments of countries in making proper public health decisions on BCG vaccination policies, in particular, to implement, continue, or discontinue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-317
Number of pages15
JournalExpert review of vaccines
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2012


  • BCG
  • cost-effectiveness
  • miliary TB
  • tuberculous meningitis
  • vaccination

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