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Would school closure for the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic have been worth the cost?: A computational simulation of Pennsylvania

Brown, ST and Tai, JHY and Bailey, RR and Cooley, PC and Wheaton, WD and Potter, MA and Voorhees, RE and LeJeune, M and Grefenstette, JJ and Burke, DS and McGlone, SM and Lee, BY (2011) Would school closure for the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic have been worth the cost?: A computational simulation of Pennsylvania. BMC Public Health, 11.

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Background: During the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemic, policy makers debated over whether, when, and how long to close schools. While closing schools could have reduced influenza transmission thereby preventing cases, deaths, and health care costs, it may also have incurred substantial costs from increased childcare needs and lost productivity by teachers and other school employees. Methods. A combination of agent-based and Monte Carlo economic simulation modeling was used to determine the cost-benefit of closing schools (vs. not closing schools) for different durations (range: 1 to 8 weeks) and symptomatic case incidence triggers (range: 1 to 30) for the state of Pennsylvania during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic. Different scenarios varied the basic reproductive rate (R0) from 1.2, 1.6, to 2.0 and used case-hospitalization and case-fatality rates from the 2009 epidemic. Additional analyses determined the cost per influenza case averted of implementing school closure. Results: For all scenarios explored, closing schools resulted in substantially higher net costs than not closing schools. For R0= 1.2, 1.6, and 2.0 epidemics, closing schools for 8 weeks would have resulted in median net costs of $21.0 billion (95% Range: $8.0-$45.3 billion). The median cost per influenza case averted would have been $14,185 ($5,423-$30,565) for R0= 1.2, $25,253 ($9,501-$53,461) for R0= 1.6, and $23,483 ($8,870-$50,926) for R0= 2.0. Conclusions: Our study suggests that closing schools during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic could have resulted in substantial costs to society as the potential costs of lost productivity and childcare could have far outweighed the cost savings in preventing influenza cases. © 2011 Brown et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Brown, STstb60@pitt.eduSTB60
Tai, JHY
Bailey, RR
Cooley, PC
Wheaton, WD
Voorhees, RE
LeJeune, M
Grefenstette, JJgref@pitt.eduGREF
Burke, DSdonburke@pitt.eduDONBURKE
McGlone, SM
Lee, BYbyl1@pitt.eduBYL1
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Vaccine Research
Date: 24 May 2011
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: BMC Public Health
Volume: 11
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-353
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Epidemiology
School of Medicine > Medicine
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 07 May 2015 20:39
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2021 13:55


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