Pneumonia vaccine and mortality risk

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 3, 2006

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Adults hospitalized for pneumonia who have received the pneumococcal vaccine are at lower risk of dying from the disease than those who haven't been vaccinated, said a study published in the April 15 Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 63,000 patients hospitalized for pneumonia between 1999 and 2003. Vaccinated patients were 40% to 70% less likely to die during hospitalization than either unvaccinated patients or those whose status was unknown. Vaccinated patients also had a lower risk of developing respiratory failure, kidney failure, heart attack or other ailments.

Twelve percent of the patients were known to have received the vaccine before being hospitalized, 23% were unvaccinated and the status of the rest was unknown.

Questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the vaccine, said lead author David Fisman, MD, MPH, a visiting scholar at Princeton University in New Jersey. "However, the benefits of vaccination seem evident in the new study," he said. The pneumococcal vaccine impairs the development of a serious condition called bacteremia. "Even if you're really sick, prevention of the bacteria getting into the bloodstream ... might save your life."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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