Maximizing the effectiveness of a pediatric vaccine formulary while prohibiting extraimmunization

Shane N. Hall, Edward C. Sewell, Sheldon H. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growing complexity of the United States Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule has resulted in as many as five required injections during a single well-baby office visit. To reduce this number, vaccine manufacturers have developed combination vaccines that immunize against several diseases in a single injection. At the same time, a growing number of parents are challenging the safety and effectiveness of vaccinating children. They are also particularly concerned about the use of combination vaccines, since they believe that injecting a child with multiple antigens simultaneously may overwhelm a child's immune system. Moreover, combination vaccines make it more likely that extraimmunization (i.e., administering more than the required amount of vaccine antigens) occurs, resulting in greater concerns by parents and vaccine wastage costs borne by an already strained healthcare system. This paper formulates an integer programming model that solves for the maximum number of vaccines that can be administered without any extraimmunization. An exact dynamic programming algorithm and a randomized heuristic for the integer programming model is formulated and the heuristic is shown to be a randomized ξ-approximation algorithm. Computational results are reported on three sets of test problems, based on existing and future childhood immunization schedules, to demonstrate their computational effectiveness and limitations. Given that future childhood immunization schedules may need to be solved for each child, on a case-by-case basis, the results reported here may provide a practical and valuable tool for the public health community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-352
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Care Management Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Discrete optimization
  • Dynamic programming
  • Heuristics
  • Integer programming
  • Pediatric immunization
  • Pediatric vaccines
  • Randomized approximation algorithms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Professions(all)


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