Trends in governmental expenditure on vaccination programmes in the Netherlands, a historical analysis

Maarten van Wijhe, Pieter T. de Boer, Herman J. de Jong, Hans van Vliet, Jacco Wallinga, Maarten J. Postma

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BACKGROUND: Health economic evaluations are often required before implementing a vaccination programme. Such evaluations rarely consider the historical context of a vaccination programme. We review the financial history of vaccination programmes in the Netherlands, and compare these to demographic and macroeconomic developments as well as avoided mortality burden.

METHODS: Previously uncatalogued historical expenditures on the Dutch National Immunisation Programme (NIP) and influenza vaccination were obtained from official reports. Costs were adjusted for inflation using Consumer Price Indices and expressed in Euro of 2016. Estimates on mortality burden averted were obtained from previous research and used to calculate the ratio of expenses to averted mortality burden for vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella for birth cohorts 1953-1992.

RESULTS: Developments towards a uniform government funded NIP started early 1950s with vaccinations against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, culminating in its official launch in 1957 together with polio vaccinations. Since the 1980s, expenditure increased nearly five-fold mostly due to the addition of new vaccines, while spending on already implemented vaccinations tended to decline. Overall, expenditure increased from € 5 million in 1957 to € 93 million in 2014. Relative to total healthcare expenditure, the NIP contributed little, ranging between 0.05% and 0.14%. Spending on influenza vaccination increased from € 37 million in 1996 to € 52 million in 2014, while relative to total healthcare expenditure it decreased from 0.069% to 0.055%. In 2014, 0.15% of healthcare expenditure and € 533 per birth was spent on vaccination programmes. Overall, for birth cohorts 1953-1992, € 5.4 thousand (95% confidence interval: 4.0-7.3) was expended per year-of-life-lost averted.

CONCLUSION: The actual costs per year-of-life gained are more favorable than estimated here since averted medical costs were not included. Although expenditure on vaccination programmes increased substantially, the contribution to overall healthcare expenditure remained small.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5698-5707
Number of pages10
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 10-Sep-2019



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