Rotavirus Vaccine Introduction Cut Health Care Use, Costs

National estimated reduction of 64,855 hospitalizations and $278 million in 2007 to 2009

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Since the introduction of rotavirus vaccine (RV5) in 2006, diarrhea-related health care utilization and medical expenditures for U.S. children younger than 5 years old decreased considerably in the rotavirus seasons, according to a study published in the Sept. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Jennifer E. Cortes, M.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues compared RV5 coverage and diarrhea-associated health care use between pre-vaccination (July 2001 through June 2006) and post-vaccination (July 2007 through June 2009) periods in children under 5 years of age. Indirect benefits, national reductions in the number of hospitalizations for diarrhea, and associated costs were assessed for 2007 to 2009.

The investigators found that the relative reduction in the hospitalization rates for diarrhea in children younger than 5 years in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 compared to 2001-2006 was 33 and 25 percent, respectively. For hospitalizations specifically coded for rotavirus infection, the relative rate reductions for 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 compared to 2001-2006 were 77 and 60 percent, respectively. In January to June of 2008 and 2009, relative rate reductions were seen in vaccinated children for diarrhea, rotavirus-coded hospitalization, emergency department visits for diarrhea, and outpatient visits for diarrhea. In 2007-2008, but not 2008-2009, indirect benefits were observed. The national estimated reduction for 2007 to 2009 was 64,855 hospitalizations, which saved approximately $278 million in treatment costs.

"Since the introduction of rotavirus vaccine, diarrhea-associated health care utilization and medical expenditures for U.S. children have decreased substantially," the authors write.

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