Seasonal influenza in children: Costs for the health system and society in Europe

Background: Pediatric influenza causes significant morbidity annually, resulting in an increased economic burden. Therefore, we aimed to summarize existing literature regarding the costs of pediatric influenza in Europe, paying particular attention to the direct and indirect costs considered in the economic evaluations. Knowing health and social costs of childhood influenza is essential to support value-based health decisions to implement effective immunization strategies.

Methods: We searched three databases for articles published to September 3, 2021. Eligible studies were those reporting the economic burden of influenza in the pediatric and youth population in European countries written in English language.

Results: Overall, 2225 records were screened, and 9 articles were included. Costs estimates are different across countries and in the age groups considered. Direct costs per episode, whose major expense driver are hospitalizations and pediatric examinations, range from about €74 in Italy to €252 in Germany. Important variations are observed based on age, with the youngest group absorbing in some cases double the resources of the older ones such as (in Italy, in France and in Germany). Regarding indirect costs, workdays lost by parents resulted in higher costs for children <2 years and 2-5 years than those >5 years of age and their economic impact was variable reaching €251 per week in Germany.

Conclusion: Evidence obtained in our review strengthened the awareness about the economic impact, in terms of direct and indirect costs, of pediatric influenza requiring, as a priority action in Europe, the implementation of influenza vaccination policies in this target population.