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Report: Pneumonia Vaccine Reduces Pediatric Admissions

Authors see 27% drop in patients younger than 2 years of age

The 2010 introduction of a new pneumococcal vaccine for infants and young children in Tennessee has coincided with a 27% decline in pneumonia hospital admissions across the state among children under 2 years of age.

That’s the lead finding of a report from investigators at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report was timed to coincide with the sixth annual observance of World Pneumonia Day on November 12.

The recent decline in Tennessee comes on top of an earlier 43% decline across the U.S. coinciding with the introduction in 2000 of the first pneumococcal vaccine for children under 2 years of age.

Pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae) is considered a leading cause of childhood pneumonia. The earlier vaccine (7-valent pneumococcal conjugated vaccine) provides protection against the seven most common strains of the bacterium, while the newer vaccine protects against 13 strains.

“We had such a dramatic decline from the first vaccine that we really didn’t know how much more effect you would get by adding six more serotypes to the vaccine. So it was very gratifying to see that there was another major drop in pneumonia hospitalizations — a pretty dramatic additional decline,” said corresponding author Marie Griffin, MD, MPH, professor of Health Policy and Medicine at Vanderbilt.

Since the introduction of the earlier vaccine in 2000, pneumonia admissions among Tennessee children younger than 2 years of age have fallen 72%, to an annual rate in 2012 of 4.1 per 1,000 population under age 2. This rate, an all-time low for Tennessee, implies a reduction of more than 1,300 pneumonia admissions per year in this age group since 2000.

The data come from the Tennessee Hospital Discharge Data System, which records billing data (including diagnosis and procedure codes) from hospitalizations and emergency department visits from all non-federal hospitals in Tennessee.

Source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center; November 6, 2014. 

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