Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chicken pox vaccine saves $$, protects whole population

07.09.2004


Hospital costs for severe cases down $100M per year since shot introduced



The chicken pox vaccine has saved America hundreds of millions of dollars since its introduction in 1995 by preventing the kinds of severe cases that used to send children, teens and adults to the hospital, a new study finds. In fact, it’s even more effective -- and cost-effective -- than originally predicted at preventing hospitalizations and hospital costs.

And the widespread immunity to the disease that has resulted from vaccination of most children even appears to be protecting people who haven’t had the shot, the researchers say. Fewer infections among kids means less exposure for teens and adults who haven’t had the disease or the vaccine -- and who are most likely to need hospital treatment for symptoms and complications if they get the disease.


In a paper in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, a team from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital gives the first data ever to report a national decrease in chicken pox-related hospitalization occurring simultaneously with the rise in immunization rates for the disease. "The results show an annual savings of $100 million since the varicella, or chicken pox, vaccine was introduced, just in the cost of hospital care for people with severe cases. That’s greater than the savings predicted in the vaccine’s pre-approval analysis," says lead author and U-M pediatrician Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P. "The hospital bill savings were considerable for Medicaid and private insurers, and ultimately for the taxpayers, employers and employees who pay for that coverage."

The savings don’t include other chicken pox costs, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies or lost work time for parents or adult patients -- all of which are also expected to be reduced as a result of the chicken pox vaccine. But the yearly hospital cost savings alone are enough to pay for a large portion of the total cost of vaccinating all American kids against chicken pox, Davis says.

The study shows that the national rate of hospital discharges for chicken pox and related complications dropped 74 percent in the first six years after the vaccine first went on the market. Before the vaccine, there was one chicken pox-related hospitalization each year for every 20,000 Americans. By 2001, when 76 percent of toddlers had been vaccinated, the rate was 0.26 hospitalizations per 20,000 people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that before the vaccine, there were 4 million cases of chicken pox nationwide each year, resulting in 11,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths. Most cases were treated at home.

After the vaccine’s introduction, the new study shows, the biggest drop in hospitalization rates was among young children, for whom the vaccine has been recommended since 1995 and is now required for school or day care enrollment in most states. But teens and adults also had a decline in hospital costs, probably due to an effect called "herd immunity" that keeps the virus from spreading among unvaccinated, previously uninfected people.

Of course, adults and teens who have not yet had chicken pox or the varicella vaccine should consider protecting themselves against possible infection by getting vaccinated, says Davis, an assistant professor of pediatrics and general internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and assistant professor of public policy at the U-M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. "This is especially important for anyone who works around children," Davis explains. "And women of childbearing age, because they can’t get vaccinated during pregnancy. With chicken pox there’s tremendous danger to the fetus during development, and to babies born to infected mothers." For people over the age of 12, vaccination involves two shots a month apart, and costs about $125.

And, he adds, the "herd immunity" effect doesn’t mean parents can skip getting a child vaccinated. "If anything, we need to ensure the highest possible vaccination rates among children, to get the most benefit for everyone," he says. "These data show we can’t afford to slow down."

Children aged 1 to 12 years who have never had chicken pox need one shot, according to CDC recommendations. It’s often covered by private insurance and Medicaid or, if a child is uninsured, can be given by a clinic that gets vaccine from the CDC’s Vaccines for Children program. Recently, other research reports have found that while vaccinated children can still get the chicken pox, they’re most likely to get a very mild case that is far less likely to need hospitalization.

The study was based on data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and funded by the U-M Health System. The team correlated national vaccination rates from the CDC’s National Immunization Survey with hospital discharge, diagnostic coding, hospital cost and insurance data from AHRQ’s Nationwide Inpatient Sample, part of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

The hospital costs included charges for treating pneumonia or encephalitis in people with chicken pox; for hospital treatment during a chicken pox infection of people with AIDS, cancer, an organ transplant or immune disorders; and for other known complications of severe chicken pox, such as skin infections, in hospital patients who had a confirmed diagnosis of the disease.

After calculating hospital discharge rates in various populations using federal Census data, and adjusting all costs into 2001 dollars, the researchers could see the trends they report in the paper. Their graph that maps overall varicella vaccination rates against hospital discharge rates for 1993 to 2001 shows two strikingly different curves: one heading steadily downward for hospitalization, and one going sharply up for vaccination, starting in 1996, the first full year of the vaccine’s availability.

When the hospitalization curve is broken down into ages 0 to 4, ages 5 to 9, ages 10 to 19 and age 20 or older, the sharpest decline is among 0 to 4 year olds, the first group targeted for vaccination. But all other groups declined too. "We’re getting to kids before their peak risk years," says Davis.

Meanwhile, a graph showing chicken pox-related hospital costs in constant 2001 dollars shows costs hovering near $160 million from 1993 to 1997, and then four years of marked decline to about $60 million in 2001. Medicaid reaped major savings, going from $75 million in costs in 1993 to less than $20 million in 2001, the most dramatic drop for any form of health insurance. "This underscores the importance of national vaccination for the most vulnerable populations, and shows that federal and state efforts to achieve this vaccination are working," says Davis.

Looking forward, Davis and his colleagues will continue to assess the national chicken pox hospitalization patterns for 2002 and beyond, to see what has happened as vaccination rates have risen above the 76 percent seen in 2001. "This first phase of national vaccination against chicken pox appears to have substantially reduced the burden of severe illness in all age groups," he says. "What remains to be seen is what the pattern will be as we get closer to having all children vaccinated, and how long the protective effect of the vaccine and the herd immunity lasts."

Kara Gavin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>