Vaccinating infants against rotavirus resulted in dramatic decrease in health care use and treatment costs for diarrhea-related illness


Vaccinating infants against rotavirus resulted in dramatic decrease in health care use and treatment costs for diarrhea-related illness

According to the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) new study that is published in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, vaccinating infants against rotavirus resulted in a dramatic decrease in health care use and treatment costs for diarrhea-related illness in U.S. infants and young children.

Dr. Umesh Parashar, medical epidemiologist and team leader for the Viral Gastroenteritis Team in CDC's Division of Viral Diseases commented: "This is good news for parents and our health system overall. Rotavirus vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent severe diarrhea-related illness in young children and keep them healthy."

In the United States, rotavirus is a major cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children that, prior to introducing the vaccine in 2006, accounted for 400,000 visits to doctor's offices, 200,000 emergency room visits, 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations, and 20 to 60 deaths each year in children under 5 years old.

The two U.S. licensed rotavirus vaccines, RotaTeq and Rotarix, showed an 85 to 98% efficacy in preventing severe rotavirus disease according to clinical trials in middle and high-income countries, including the U.S.Researchers based this new study on data they obtained from a large U.S. insurance database to assess rotavirus vaccine coverage and its impact on health care use and treatment costs for diarrhea-related illness in children under 5 years old.

They evaluated data from 2001 to 2009, and assessed direct benefits to vaccinated children and indirect protective benefits to unvaccinated children. Estimated national declines in health care use and treatment costs for children below the age of 5 years in the U.S. are based on the results of this study.

The investigations show that by the end of 2008, 73% of children 12 months or younger, 64 % of 1-year-olds, and 8% of 2 to 4-year-olds had received at least one dose of rotavirus vaccine. Pre-vaccine levels in children under 5 years old resulted in a dramatic 75% decrease in rotavirus-related hospitalizations in 2007-2008 and a 60% decline for 2008-2009 respectively.

During the 2008 and 2009 rotavirus seasons (January to June) vaccinated children had 44 to 58% fewer diarrhea-related hospitalizations and 37 to 48% fewer emergency room visits for diarrhea compared with children who were not vaccinated. Compared with pre-vaccine levels, children who were not vaccinated also had a substantial decline in using health care during the 2008 rotavirus season-showing indirect protective benefits.

Researchers calculated, that approximately 65,000 hospitalizations of children under the age of 5 years were prevented from 2007 to 2009 nationally, resulting in health care cost savings of about $278 million.

Dr. Mark Pallansch, director of CDC's Division of Viral Diseases, concluded:

"This study provides more evidence that vaccinating against rotavirus substantially reduces suffering and health care costs for this common childhood illness. As more children get vaccinated against rotavirus, we expect to see even greater reductions in disease among all age groups."

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Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice