P&S Journal: Winter 1998, Vol.18, No.1
Pneumococcal Vaccination for Elderly People
Pneumococcal vaccination for elderly people improves health and saves medical costs, according to research reported in an October 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The per-person cost of vaccination is more than offset by savings in hospital treatment of pneumococcal bacteremia, an infection in the blood, according to health economist Dr. Jane Sisk, professor of public health.
Using data on disease patterns, vaccination effectiveness and safety, and Medicare payments, Dr. Sisk's team compared vaccination with no vaccination among people 65 years and older. Pneumococcal vaccination was found to improve health and reduce net medical costs for each of three elderly age groups in the United States: age 65 to 74, age 75 to 84, and age 85 and older. These findings also applied to three specific areas that differed in disease incidence and death--metropolitan Atlanta; Columbus (Franklin County), Ohio; and Rochester (Monroe County), N.Y., indicating the general applicability of the results. The cost-effectiveness analysis was limited to bacteremia and its treatment in hospitals, though the organism may also cause pneumonia and meningitis.
Vaccination of elderly people against pneumococcal bacteremia is one of the few interventions that have been found to both improve health and save medical costs," says Dr. Sisk. The results lend economic support to recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all people age 65 and older be vaccinated.