Researchers from Pennsylvania, Texas, and New Jersey analysed data from nearly 63,000 patients hospitalised for pneumonia between 1999 and 2003. Twelve percent of the patients were known to have received pneumococcal vaccination prior to being hospitalised, 23 percent were unvaccinated, and the rest had unknown vaccine status.

Vaccinated patients were 40 to 70 percent less likely to die during hospitalisation than either unvaccinated patients or patients with unknown status. Vaccinated patients also had a lower risk of developing respiratory failure, kidney failure, heart attack, or other ailments. In addition, vaccinated patients’ average hospital stay was two days shorter than that of unvaccinated patients.

Adult pneumococcal vaccination is somewhat controversial, according to lead author David Fisman, MD, of Princeton University, because “it’s been very hard to show that it prevents pneumonia, especially in older adults.” However, the benefits of vaccination seem evident in the new study. “When people hit the door really sick and most likely to die, even in those people, being vaccinated was associated with a lower risk of death,” Dr. Fisman said. The pneumococcal vaccine impairs the development of a serious condition called bacteremia, or bacterial infection of the bloodstream. “Even if you’re really sick, prevention of the bacteria getting into the bloodstream…might save your life,” Dr. Fisman said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults age 65 and older should get the pneumococcal vaccination, as should younger people with certain medical problems. CDC’s “Healthy People 2010” program sets a goal of having 90 percent of older adults vaccinated by 2010.

MEDICA.de; Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America