Routine Immunizations Linked to Decline in Rotavirus Hospitalizations, Health Care Costs

AUGUST 15, 2017
Jennifer Barrett, Assistant Editor
The introduction of routine rotavirus vaccinations resulted in substantial reductions in diarrhea-related hospitalization in children, as well as associated health care costs, according to a study published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

The analysis builds on previous research that demonstrated a reduction in hospitalizations since the implementation of rotavirus vaccines in 2006, providing additional data and national health care cost estimates. Estimates from the study’s results indicate that more than 380,000 children avoided hospitalization for diarrhea from 2008 to 2013 in the United States, saving an estimated $1.2 billion in direct medical costs.

In the study, the researchers analyzed data focusing on hospitalization for acute gastroenteritis among children younger than age 5, comparing the periods before and after vaccination licensure in 2006. After the implementation of routine rotavirus immunization, diarrhea hospitalizations decreased by between 31% to 55% from 2008 to 2013.

After routine rotavirus vaccinations were introduced, direct medical costs savings for avoided diarrhea hospitalization amounted to $1.2 billion nationwide during the 2008-2013 period. However, the researchers noted that this amount likely underestimates the overall economic effect because other costs, such as averted clinician’s office or emergency room visits, were not included.

In 2015, the researchers estimated that 73% of US children aged 19-35 months old received the rotavirus vaccine, which is lower than rates for other routine childhood vaccines such as diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine. The researchers concluded that efforts to further increase rotavirus vaccine uptake could better protect children against the disease and result in substantial health care savings.

Leshem E, Tate JE, Steiner CA, et al. National estimates of reductions in acute gastroenteritis-related hospitalizations and associated costs in US children after implementation of rotavirus vaccines. J Pediatr Infect Dis Soc. 2017.