How and why researchers use the number needed to vaccinate to inform decision making—A systematic review

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How and why researchers use the number needed to vaccinate to inform decision making—A systematic review
Natasha S Crowcroft
Shelly Bolotin
Ahmed Hashim
Vica Dang
Elsevier - Vaccine
Año de publicación



The number needed to vaccinate (NNV) is a measure that has been widely used in the scientific literature to draw conclusions about the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of various immunization programmes. The main objective of this review is to examine how and why the NNV has been used and reported in the published literature.


Electronic databases were searched and records were screened against the eligibility criteria by two independent authors. We included papers that reported and interpreted NNV.


We identified 27 studies, the designs including observational studies, economic analyses, systematic reviews, and commentaries. The NNV has been used in the literature to describe three main themes: potential benefits of vaccination programmes, cost-effectiveness, and economic analyses, and modelling studies to compare different vaccination strategies.


NNV has been used in a wide variety of ways in the literature, yet there are no defined thresholds for what is a favourable NNV. Furthermore, the generalizability of the NNV is usually limited. Further work is required to determine the most appropriate use of this measure.

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