April 6, 2007

Vaccine cuts child illness hospitalizations

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Carlos Grijalva, M.D., M.P.H.

Vaccine cuts child illness hospitalizations

A Vanderbilt study shows that routine infant immunization with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine has caused a 39 percent fall in all-cause pneumonia hospital admission rates for American children under age 2, according to an article published in this week's The Lancet.

Carlos Grijalva, M.D., M.P.H., research assistant professor of Preventive Medicine, along with colleagues in the School of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample — the largest inpatient database available — to carry out their study.

Pneumonia and influenza combined are the greatest infectious cause of death in the U.S., and pneumonia accounts for between three and 18 percent of all childhood hospital admissions.

They found that rates of all-cause pneumonia hospital admissions for the post vaccination years fell by 506 cases per 100,000 children under age 2 — a drop of 39 percent that represents an actual reduction of some 41,000 admissions in 2004.

The study also provided evidence of the so-called “herd immunity effect” — in which unvaccinated older people benefit from the vaccination of children and infants.

“Our results contribute to the growing body of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in children,” Grijalva said.