The lack of specific policies on how many children must be present at a vaccinating location before a healthcare worker can open a measles-containing vaccine (MCV) - i.e. the vial-opening threshold - has led to inconsistent practices, which can have wide-ranging systems effects.
While the ideal vial-opening threshold policy for MCV varies by supply chain, implementing a 30% vial-opening threshold for 10-dose MCVs benefits each system by improving overall vaccine availability and reducing associated medical costs and DALYs compared to no threshold.
Using HERMES-generated simulation models of the routine immunization supply chains of Benin, Mozambique and Niger, we evaluated the impact of different vial-opening thresholds (none, 30% of doses must be used, 60%) and MCV presentations (10-dose, 5-dose) on each supply chain. We linked these outputs to a clinical- and economic-outcomes model which translated the change in vaccine availability to associated infections, medical costs, and DALYs. We calculated the economic impact of each policy from the health system perspective.
The vial-opening threshold that maximizes vaccine availability while minimizing costs varies between individual countries. In Benin (median session size = 5), implementing a 30% vial-opening threshold and tailoring distribution of 10-dose and 5-dose MCVs to clinics based on session size is the most cost-effective policy, preventing 671 DALYs ($471/DALY averted) compared to baseline (no threshold, 10-dose MCVs). In Niger (median MCV session size = 9), setting a 60% vial-opening threshold and tailoring MCV presentations is the most cost-effective policy, preventing 2897 DALYs ($16.05/ DALY averted). In Mozambique (median session size = 3), setting a 30% vial-opening threshold using 10-dose MCVs is the only beneficial policy compared to baseline, preventing 3081 DALYs ($85.98/DALY averted). Across all three countries, however, a 30% vial-opening threshold using 10-dose MCVs everywhere is the only MCV threshold that consistently benefits each system compared to baseline.