The introduction of the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine into the schedule of immunizations routinely received by children in 2000 has “substantially reduced” pneumonia-related hospitalizations of both children and unvaccinated adults, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine compared average annual rates of pneumonia-related hospitalizations from 1997 to 1999 to rates from 2007 to 2009 using data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample.
They found that the annual rate of hospitalization for pneumonia among children under the age of two declined by 555.1 per 100,000 children, which represents 47,000 fewer cases than expected based on the pre-vaccine rates. Reductions also were seen in the unvaccinated adult population. Overall, the researchers estimate an age-adjusted annual reduction of 54.8 per 100,000 people, or 168,000 fewer hospitalizations annually.
“The reduction in hospitalizations for pneumonia among unvaccinated persons is perhaps more remarkable than the decline among young children, who were targeted for the vaccine,” the authors state. “Indeed, older adults accounted for more than half the decline in overall hospitalizations for pneumonia.”