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Pneumonia Shot Can Save Lives

TUESDAY, Oct. 9 -- Hospitalized patients with community-acquired pneumonia are less likely to die or end up in intensive care if they've previously received the pneumonia vaccine, Canadian research finds.

A team at the University of Alberta analyzed data on more than 3,400 patients with community-acquired pneumonia who were admitted to six hospitals between 2000 and 2002.

Of those patients, 22 percent had previously received the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV).

In total, 624 patients died or were admitted to the ICU. But patients who'd received the PPV were less likely to die or to be admitted to the ICU than those who hadn't been vaccinated (10 percent vs. 21 percent).

The study, which appears in the Oct. 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, received funding from pharmaceutical companies Abbott, Pfizer, and Jannsen-Ortho Canada.

Even though 2,416 of the patients were eligible for PPV when discharged from the hospital, only 215 (9 percent) received it, the researchers noted. Most guidelines recommend the vaccine for people at high risk of developing pneumonia, including older adults and nursing home residents.

"We believe that our results further emphasize the importance of adopting current adult pneumococcal vaccination guidelines, particularly since only 22 percent of our (study) population were vaccinated before their hospitalization and less than 10 percent of eligible patients were vaccinated before hospital discharge," the study authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about pneumonia.

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Posted: October 2007