Among children younger than 2, receiving the pneumococcal vaccine appears to be associated with fewer hospitalizations for pneumonia and reduced health-care expenses, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Beginning in 2000, the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PDV7) became part of the routine immunization schedule for American children, according to background information in a news release about the study.
The vaccine — which protects against pneumococcal pneumonia, caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria — is recommended for all children aged 2 months to 23 months and children aged 24 months to 59 months who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease.
Between 2002 and 2005, the number of American children aged 19 months to 35 months receiving three or more doses of the PDV7 vaccine increased from 41 percent to 83 percent.
For this study, the CDC researchers analyzed 1997 to 2004 health records from a database of about 40 large U.S. employers. The findings are published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
“Comparing the rates in 2004 with those in the baseline period of 1997 to 1999 among children younger than two years, hospitalizations due to all-cause pneumonia declined from 11.5 to 5.5 per 1,000 children (52.4 percent decline) and ambulatory (outpatient) visits due to all-cause pneumonia declined from 99.3 to 58.5 per 1,000 children (41.1 percent decline),” the study authors wrote.
“Rates of hospitalization due to pneumococcal pneumonia declined from 0.6 to 0.3 per 1,000 children (57.6 percent decline) and rates of ambulatory visits declined from 1.7 to 0.9 per 1,000 children (46.9 percent decline),” the authors added.
The findings add to growing evidence of the benefits of PCV7 vaccination and suggest the vaccine plays an important role in reducing pneumonia rates and health-care costs, the authors concluded.