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Vaccines are the most popular preventive intervention world-wide and are socially useful interventions. As with all social programmes, the effects of vaccines must be carefully assessed. Their economic significance lies partly in the burden of disease that can be avoided and partly in the competition for resources between vaccines and other interventions. Classic methods of economic evaluation depend on the evaluation of effectiveness and safety of each vaccine being evaluated and can indicate whether vaccination represent a good return for investment, especially if the wider social perspective is taken into account. The use of economic logic can also be applied to prioritise research into vaccines, both on the basis of ability of the target population to benefit and of the availability of good quality evidence. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.

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